It’s been almost a month since I wrote a post! I need to be better at keeping up with my blog… Well, nothing new happened really. A few things here and there, but overall I am in summer vacation right now and soon am starting an internship with a publishing company, Beacon Press! Yes, located in Boston. You now know where I reside. But what I wanted to write about today is Buddhism.
Buddhism is, in my opinion, probably one of the most open and “flexible” religion practices out there. There are no strict rules – the only main concept that you have to follow is to be kind to all sentient beings. Compassion, compassion, compassion. Most people would probably consider Buddhism to be more of a philosophy rather than a religion.
However, as flexible and open Buddhism is, I think that that in of itself is a flaw. I feel like human beings are naturally meant to be followers – to follow rules, instructions, guidelines, etc. (like have you seen those experimental videos where someone will stand with a sign being such as “hug me” and no one will do anything, but once one person does, then everyone follows along and does it). And Buddhism not having a set of religious guidelines to follow (for example, like how Muslims are not allowed to eat pork) kind of… causes people to be unsure how to go about being a Buddhist.
I mean, they won’t consciously be all “huh, how am I supposed to do this Buddhism thing?” but naturally they just don’t follow through a set of actions that define Buddhism. For example, Christians undeniably have a lot of set guidelines and statements from the Bible that they follow. And thus, Christians are such devout religious people because they stick to what they are told (sometimes to the extent of bigotry unfortunately if some of them actually follow EVERYTHING the Bible says).
Buddhism is just so free-flowing, I think a lot of people don’t know how to act on that type of religion. Like, Buddhism is one of those things where YOU have to decide what constitutes being a Buddhist. What will be considered being compassionate and you have to be very aware of your actions. Well, there are some people who come up with ideas like being vegetarian or taking part in charities and donation groups that help other people/animals and that’s definitely a step in the right direction.
But from my experience, yeah I think Buddhism is a religion that consists of the most followers who don’t actually practice that religion but merely say they are Buddhists. When I went to India two summers, pretty much the home town of Tibetan Buddhism, I witnessed SO many people who clearly did not practice what they preach (if they preached at all).
I’d see people walk around with mala beads praying all day, every day at temples. They’ll remember auspicious holidays/days and are sure to remind the youngsters of them (such as Saka Dawa, a day when you shouldn’t eat meat). But in their daily lives, they treat waiters like shit, they ignore homeless beggars on the street, and they shoo starving strays away with a flailing kick.
I don’t know about y’all, but that ain’t the Buddhist way. A lot of people will know hundreds of prayers by heart but probably don’t know what the fuck they mean. In restaurants, I was utterly shocked at how my relatives in India treated the waiters there. Granted, it’s India and the class rankings there are very hierarchical and strict. It’s a societal norm there to treat lower class like shit (you’ll even see examples of it in Bollywood movies).
But that itself is an example. Tibetan Buddhists, instead of forming their own way of thinking as to what would make them “good” Buddhists, they follow the crowd subconsciously like “Oh, it’s the norm and everyone does it, so it’s okay if I do it also.” They follow the crowd instead of wondering if that doesn’t go with the ideas of Buddhism.
I don’t consider myself a Buddhist necessarily anymore, but I grew up with the morals of Tibetan Buddhism thanks to my parents (no sarcasm, I really am grateful). So when I was in India, I fed the stray dogs (animal lover, what can I say) and boy, I was shocked myself at the amount of odd looks I got. When I told my great uncle there that I wanted to give a stray dog outside my hard boiled egg, he laughed in a “oh that’s cute.” Countless of times during my stay there, my mental response to people have been “Why? Why is this surprising? Isn’t this what a Buddhist, set aside a human being, should do?”
After a few months of wondering to myself about it constantly and even ranting to my parents about it, I gave up on it all. My parents were accepting and telling me that just because they’re Tibetan Buddhists doesn’t mean that I have to be one. I still have morals of compassion and respect that my parents taught me at a young age and those will always stay with me, but I wouldn’t consider myself an active Buddhist.
Well, there’s my rant! I had discussed this with my dad the other night after dinner. It was a long discussion and I felt like it was a worthy post to upload on the blog. Of course, this is all my thinking. What are your thoughts??
Have a lovely day/evening, folks!