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Philosophical Buddhist who is still an atheist
#1
Philosophical Buddhist who is still an atheist
I wanted to see if there can be reasonable reconciliation on these beliefs for me.

I've been an atheist for almost a decade and a half now. Back then, I made a deal with any deity out there: if you exist and you want me to believe, it's well within your power to reach out to me so you can do that. Until then, I'm going to not believe and assume that if any God does exist, it doesn't want me to believe. As you can guess, no supernatural being has revealed themselves to me.

However, about four years ago, I had some big changes go through my life and as much as the changes were for the better in the long run, they were also very stressful at the time. Emotionally, I hit a low point; I made multiple suicide attempts, cried almost constantly and made a bad habit out of cutting myself on a fairly regular basis.

After about a year of that, things changed. One of the first things to change for me was that my personal life stabilized more and, yes, this played a big role in changing my mindset. It's hard to be emotionally stable if you aren't socially stable. However, there was more to it. I also looked up more information on gaining calmness and peace of mind and things like that. As a result of that research, I learned a lot about Eastern philosophies, especially Buddhist philosophy. The meditation, the mindfulness, the connection to the rest of the universe and the laid back perspective all resonated with me and thinking that way seemed to be a positive influence on my life.

That's not saying I believe in Buddhism as a religion. As much as the philosophy has helped, I have still had no sign from a supernatural being that has convinced me of anything. I have no reason to believe reincarnation exists or that karma is anything more than an abstract idea. In fact, most of the benefits of Buddhism for me can be interpreted as benefits via psychology. However, I know that a lot of people DO consider Buddhism a religion and they take it very seriously.

I guess what I wanted to ask is, is it reasonable to be both an atheist as far as the supernatural goes but believe in a Buddhist philosophy?
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#2
RE: Philosophical Buddhist who is still an atheist
It is perfectly reasonable - atheism is a stance on gods, not on karma or reincarnation - however it is uncommon. The meditation parts of it have shown to have health benefits (although this could be placebo effect), as well as being relaxing.
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. - J.R.R Tolkien
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#3
RE: Philosophical Buddhist who is still an atheist
Have you read Lao Tzu?
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#4
RE: Philosophical Buddhist who is still an atheist
(August 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm)festive1 Wrote: Have you read Lao Tzu?

Not specifically, no, but I do like the ideas behind Tao philosophy as well. Eastern spiritual beliefs seem to just resonate more with me than Western ones do.

Honestly, part of me is afraid to dig too deeply into Buddhism because as I see it now, the philosophy works for me. I'm afraid that if I learn too much about it, I'll learn some flawed piece of it that causes the entire house of cards to come tumbling down. Well, that and I'm not exactly sure what would be a good place to start learning. But honestly, if it works for me now because I don't know something, part of me wonders, am I better off not knowing? Can ignorance really be a bliss??
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#5
RE: Philosophical Buddhist who is still an atheist
Quote: Eastern spiritual beliefs seem to just resonate more with me than Western ones do.

Buddhism is often described as an atheistic religion,as it has no gods. However, with its concepts of Karma and reincarnation,it remains a dualist belief system. IE unsupported by credible evidence. Consequently,I put Buddhism in the very large box labeled 'superstition'
Man is not so much a rational animal as a rationalising one.
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#6
RE: Philosophical Buddhist who is still an atheist
(August 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm)padraic Wrote:
Quote: Eastern spiritual beliefs seem to just resonate more with me than Western ones do.

Buddhism is often described as an atheistic religion,as it has no gods. However, with its concepts of Karma and reincarnation,it remains a dualist belief system. IE unsupported by credible evidence. Consequently,I put Buddhism in the very large box labeled 'superstition'

You're right. That's why I believe in the philosophical aspects to it but not the supernatural aspects.
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#7
RE: Philosophical Buddhist who is still an atheist
TaraJo Wrote:Honestly, part of me is afraid to dig too deeply into Buddhism because as I see it now, the philosophy works for me. I'm afraid that if I learn too much about it, I'll learn some flawed piece of it that causes the entire house of cards to come tumbling down.
Well, if you're willing to chew on some word salad, here and here we have a (Marxist, actually) philosopher expressing some gripes with "Western Buddhism".
So these philosophers were all like, "That Kant apply universally!" And then these mathematicians were all like, "Oh yes it Kan!"
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#8
RE: Philosophical Buddhist who is still an atheist
(August 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm)TaraJo Wrote: Not specifically, no, but I do like the ideas behind Tao philosophy as well. Eastern spiritual beliefs seem to just resonate more with me than Western ones do.

A common affliction since the forced opening of eastern ports two hundred or so years ago.



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#9
RE: Philosophical Buddhist who is still an atheist
Quote: That's why I believe in the philosophical aspects to it but not the supernatural aspects.

Are you referring,for example,to the notion that suffering is caused by attachment, 'ahimsa' (the absence of desire to harm) and that the Buddha said " above all,loving kindness." (?). Yes/No? Different?
Man is not so much a rational animal as a rationalising one.
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#10
RE: Philosophical Buddhist who is still an atheist
(August 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm)Rhythm Wrote: A common affliction since the forced opening of eastern ports two hundred or so years ago.

I'm aware of this as well. I wonder, had I been born in Mongolia or Tibet, and followed the same skeptic path I have here, would I be adamantly rejecting Buddhism and eastern religions but finding something to believe in with Judeo Christian philosophy?

However, another one of the things that led me to Buddhist thought is treatment for borderline personality disorder, especially DBT. I don't know of any legitimate treatments that involve Christian philosophy.

(August 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm)padraic Wrote: Are you referring,for example,to the notion that suffering is caused by attachment, 'ahimsa' (the absence of desire to harm) and that the Buddha said " above all,loving kindness." (?). Yes/No? Different?

Those, plus viewing myself as just another part of the world instead of as an especially important part of the world really helps me remove ego from the equation. As for karma, I believe in it, but in a way that's far less concrete than what strict Buddhism believes.
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