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I Converted From Atheism To Zen Buddhism

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Posted by Richard Ruquist on June 2, 2004 14:03:06 UTC


Like you I was raised in Christianity, first in a Puritan chruch where I was baptised, and later in the Anglican church where I was confirmed. But from the study of science in the 1950s, I decided that a supernatural world could not exist. And so even if concepts as taught in Christianity or any other religion were in part true, without life after death, those concepts had no value for me. I admit that that is a completely self-centered view.

My religion was science and my practice was running in races and training, which has many aspects of the values of a religion. But then I developed sciatica from marathoning and sprinting on a beach in soft sand. Tried everything for a year and 1/2 without relief. Finally I went to Micchio Kushi, the father of Zen Macrobiotics in America. He explained yin/yang to me and changed my diet from yin to yang so as to make my nerves thin.

Relief came in a matter of two days. But then for 6 months until the cure was final, everytime I ate anything yin, I would re-experience sciatic pain, sometimes very severe.

That was such a remarkable experience that I became curious about the philosophy behind yin/yang. So I studied Taoism, then Buddhism, then Hinduism, then Christianity and Judiaism, but remained an atheist. What finally turned my head was reading about out-of-body experiences (OBE), and then encountering some who had had the experience. That was proof that a supernatural world existed.

I converted to Judiaism, but actually had eastern beliefs. In the end I invented my own religion which combined all others in principles. I also continued in physics to understand the supernatural scientifically culminating in a paper on dark matter and consciousness in Quantum Mind 2001. Dark matter is a supernatural world.

But along the way, I became disillusioned with Buddhism as well as the Christian dogma invented by Paul. I like the teachings of Jesus but not of Paul. But that is beside the point. What I found lacking in Buddhism is that the Noble Truths did not seem to me to be true anymore, just because science has made my life so easy.

I do not suffer. My life is happy and enjoyable. I would be pleased to have one like this again. So for reference, here are the Noble Truths of Buddhism:

The First Noble Truth starts with the problem of suffering and unhappiness in life. There is sickness, decay, old age, death, separation from loved ones, horrific events such as war, and the constant process of not having desires fulfilled.

The Second Noble Truth states the fundamental cause of suffering. It is not that things are in this sorry state, but rather that we do not understand deeply that all phenomena are constantly changing. We try to resist the powerful flow of life and thereby become strongly attached to ideas, to people, to things, to our own bodies, to status, to power, or to escape and fantasy – such as the idea of God. We also cling to the idea that we have a permanent self or soul, and this further makes us self-centered.

The Third Noble Truth is that we can end this vicious cycle of craving and frustration by diminishing that craving. The extinction of craving is not death or unconsciousness, but Enlightenment, also called Nirvana. Craving keeps us ignorant, and ignorance keeps us from waking up, and that is why Buddha means "Awakened." When craving is understood and made to cease, a new life is realized. Nirvana, which means extinction, is the end of suffering, of delusion,

The First Noble Truth is obviously not true for me. I am very happy and am not suffering at all.

The second noble truth essentially teaches nihilism. And it negates the most important aspect of a human being, your "root" in the language of Buddhism, or your "soul" in the language of all other religions.

The third Noble truth is just not appealing even if true. Nirvana is equivalent to extinction of the self regardless of what you say.

I have always been amused that each religion seems to leave out one essential ingredient.

Judiasm leaves out life after death (which makes it much more compatible with science than Buddhism)

Christianity introduced the idea of soul from the Greeks and life after death, but left out reincarnation. (Just having one life leads to distortion of behavior in this life, and very good political control of the masses)

Buddhism leaves out the idea of the soul or self as what exists after death and is reborn. However, since they use the concept of the 'root', based on karma, not much is really missing.

Hinduism seems to accept all other beliefs as valid. So it's difficult to say that anything is missing there. What mainly distinquishes it from Buddhism is that in Hinduism, you can pray for miracles and expect to get some. Whereas in Buddhism, you get ahead only by self-improvement. But even this is not entirely true. The Lord of Great Compassion is available for all for salvation, as believed in Tibetian Buddhism.

So parts of Buddhism has its Lords or Gods to pray to for miracles, the miracle of salvation. But most of the formal Buddhist belief is that you have to do it yourself. All other religions, and including the Tibetian Book of the Dead, say that no human has sufficient power to get salvation on his own (they are mostly sexiest, as is Buddhism) and outside help is needed from Jesus or the Lord of Great Compassion, or your guru, or even close spiritual friends praying for you. Here Islam is consistent with formal Buddhism in that Mohamed does not provide salvation. You get salvation from deeds of valor or leading the good life, or in rare instances, both.


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