So I've been spending some time learning about Buddhism. Not really because I'm interested in converting, or even really defining any religious association, but because its an interesting lens to view the world through. A lot of the things I've heard or read so far have aligned with my core beliefs, and provided a useful construct to analyze things. Do I expect to become some enlightened yogi by next week? Not a chance. What I do hope for is a new way to think about my interactions with others.
While my views on this might change as study more, here's how I see things. Most religions claim to teach truth. I don't get that from my study of Buddhism. What I'm getting is one guy telling folks they way he found truth. Making suggestions on what path to take, and how to stay on it. This strongly appeals to the free thinker, and pragmatist in me. I'm not trying to grapple with questions like "does god exist?" because the answer to that has no impact on the choices I make on how I live my life. I'm doing good because its good, not because I'm looking for reward / fearing punishment later.
The Buddha's first truth is that all life is / contains suffering. In the world we live in, that's as plain as the nose on my face. There's small scale suffering with people being unhappy / stressed about work, and large scale suffering up to and including genocide. I'm seeking to reduce the net suffering in the world. One day, one choice at a time. Not because someone/something tells me to, but because I see my fellow humans in pain and I want to do what I can to make that less. If this road leads to Heaven, Nirvana, Valhalla, Stovokor or a clay urn on my kid's mantle its all the same to me. I want my journey from now to then to be on a road worth walking for its own sake.
So, be kind to eachother, try to listen to what the people around you say, hear them from their own perspective. Its a long road, and we have no idea where it ends. Think about your actions, and make up your own dammed mind.