Go: get a piece of paper.
Write down your four favorite possessions.
Write down your four favorite pastimes.
Write down the four parts of your body you like the best.
Write down the four people you care for most.
Write down your four best personality traits.
Go ahead. Do it now, then come back.
Finished? Now, slowly, one by one, draw a line through each of your favorite possessions. You will lose them all.
Scratch out each of your pastimes. There will come some point in your life where you will be unable to manage them.
Erase each of your favorite body parts. If you’re lucky, they’ll slowly devolve into senescence. If not, you will lose them through illness or injury.
Ink out your favorite people. You will lose them all, either through their deaths or your own.
What you’re left with, at least in the version I learned recently, are your personality traits. However, let’s be honest: you will lose those as well through death, injury, or dementia.
Rip them up. Rip them all up. Either they will die with you, or you will lose them along the way.
The question we all face is how to be happy in the face of these truths.
Instead of giving up something you don’t want to give up for a month and cause yourself undue suffering, why not give up something that causes you suffering that you want and are ready to give up forever? Meh. What do I know?
“Gotama compares the Dhamma to a raft that one assembles from pieces of driftwood, fallen branches and other bits of rubbish. Once it has taken you across the river that lies in your way, you leave it behind on the bank for someone else and proceed on your way. The Dhamma is a temporary expedient….
but no transmigration of self.
Thy thought-forms reappear,
But there is no egoentity transferred.
The stanza uttered by a teacher
is reborn in the scholar who repeats the words.
The truly dangerous thing about belief in an all-powerful supernatural being - God as it has been called, is that it allows a person to place the responsibility for his or her actions on the shoulders of that being. When one does not take full responsibility for her actions and thoughts, what can be the outcome other than hatred, violence, and eventually war? As an atheist you do not have that supernatural being to give your responsibility to, no omnipotent being to “forgive” you when you act in a manner that is harmful to self or others. You are that much closer to realizing that the only person in the universe responsible for your own actions is yourself. Once this is fully realized, you are free to take responsibility for everything you do and say; in doing this you simultaneously reduce your own suffering as well as the suffering of those around you.
Buddhism and Atheism
Ajahn Brahm outlines his perspectives on god and atheism…
He is lovely. And all of the terrible jokes.