"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything." - Friedrick Nietzsche
Atheist, scientist, secular Buddhist, rat lover, etc.
Originally from Iowa,I am a biology graduate student at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
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.
Doug Smith, The Footman’s Snicker, http://secularbuddhism.org/2013/02/22/the-footmans-snicker/
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?
I have found that there is, in fact, nothing morbid or depressing at all about reflecting on this fact every day. Rather, it allows for a profound acceptance of this fact as well as a renewed appreciation for life. Death is no longer a topic to be feared or avoided and the fact that I, or anyone else, is here at all is met with awe and respect. Contemplating death allows us to become conscious the wonders of existence.
My grandmother, the woman who raised me, passed away last night. I’m still in shock at the moment. It is difficult being so far away from home when I know my family could use the support. One of the worst things about being atheist/secular Buddhist is understanding the finality of death and that you will never be able to see or speak to a deceased loved one again. She was a holocaust survivor, an ex-spy, a business-owner, a mother, a grandmother, and the strongest woman I ever knew. You were an excellent teacher, hopefully I am an equally adept student.
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.
Stephen Batchelor, “Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist”