Friday, December 23, 2011

Dalai Lama says you can be good without "God"

I read a lot. A LOT. Including religious texts. I've read the Bible, cover to cover, twice, and look up things in it frequently (usually while arguing scripture with a Christian). I've read the Koran, cover to cover, once, and continue to look up things in it frequently (usually while arguing with a Christian about what they think is in the Koran). I've read a lot of Buddhist philosophy.

I'm not looking for God, because there is no God. I read religious texts because they are written by humans who are trying to make sense of the world and what is happening to them, their families and other humans. Reading religious texts helps me understand how humans reason, and helps me learn about commonly-held wisdom that can be found in a variety of cultures and a variety of eras. It helps me understand how people think and worry and dream and justify.

Sometimes what I read is pretty - poetic expressions of how people think and feel. I like that. Sometimes what I read leaves me in despair: the hatred of men to their fellow men, and to women especially, is overwhelming at times. But sometimes, my hope for humanity gets a boost as I read. I won't say I have faith in humanity, but I do have faith in humans having the capacity for kindness and responsibility to themselves, to others and our world - whether or not they realize or acknowledge that capacity. Religious texts never make me think there are invisible, magical super friends all around us or in the sky, but reading such does sometimes help me regarding what I want to believe regarding humans.

The Dalai Lama is not someone I agree with all the time: his views on abortion (doesn't believe women should ever choose this option) and homosexuality (thinks its unnatural and unhealthy) contribute the justification for the oppression of women and of gays and lesbians - even if he also says, "if two males or two females voluntarily agree to have mutual satisfaction without further implication of harming others, then it is okay". (OUT Magazine February/March 1994, as quoted at Wikipedia).

But he says a lot of things I do agree with.

Here are two quotes I agree with very much, from The Dalai Lama, A Policy of Kindness: An Anthology by and about the Dalai Lama (1990) edited by Sidney Piburn ISBN 8120815122

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion. (p. 47)

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. (p. 52)

I love it when a religious person acknowledges that there is no need for religion or a God in order to be good.

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