Religion can be said to be humanity’s attempt to know the unknowable and control the uncontrollable.
Religion also entails a belief that reality is underpinned by some absolute external supernatural unchanging reality, above or beyond laws of mundane physical nature. Religion thus provides a coping mechanism for a changing world where we fear that reality is impermanent, impersonal, and immanent (the divine is seen as existing in all humble things that take shape around us). Through religion we try to perceive (create?) a world that is permanent, personal, and transcendent.
Because people try to impose what they wish to be real instead of understanding the nature of what is real, there is division and conflict. We see wide ranging forms of prejudice and evil acts because each and every person, community, nation, religion, etc. believes they know what is good and evil, what is and what is not, what should be and should not be.
What if there were a religion founded on empirical research (“I have explored and I have found…”), personal interpretation (“I find it prudent to believe…”), and openness to new bigger possibilities that become evident the more we progress (“I now believe, but reserve the right to change and advance my beliefs as I grow…”)?
In a communicating 21st century world where all beliefs from around the world are open and available to all persons (…as opposed to a limited availability of beliefs based on where you are coming from as it would have been in the 1600s or 1700s), what do you think is the most effective, encouraging, meaningful, and satisfying form for religion to take?
Did you ever have a nightmare so real that you actually felt rescued upon awakening? You felt a deep sense of joy and liberation when you realized it was “only a dream”?
A secret truth is that such bad dream experiences very much parallel the experience of obstacles and fears in waking life too.
This realization will empower you. Direct your life so that rather than being overwhelmed by obstacles and fears, you can operate from the liberating realization that the root source of your perceptions is your own mind.
Almost everything we think and feel, and all our interpretations of what we encounter, are rooted in hope and fear, which in turn, bind our minds to turbulent emotions. This constrains our thoughts to the point where we no longer have any control over them. That is why, according to the shravaka teachings, we need to tame the mind. Or from the bodhisattva point of view, train it to become useful. Or from the vajrayana perspective recognize how the mind works.
Where do you fit in the process?
April 14 was Rumiko’s and my 30th wedding anniversary. We celebrated with joy and then were dismayed to hear about the Tibetan earthquake tragedy that day. More than 1,700 people have died and an estimated 10,000 mostly ethnic Tibetans were injured and left homeless in near-freezing temperatures after an earthquake struck a region of Kham, Tibet. More than 85 percent of the houses in Kyigudo, a town of 100,000 people nearest the epicenter, were destroyed along with a major monastery.
I encourage friends to donate relief funds, either directly to an appropriate organization like The Tibet Fund Emergency Earthquake Relief, or by sending a donation to Rumiko’s and my charity Blue Lotus Assembly to form a collection we will donate as a group.
May 13 update: I made a presentation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on stage in front of the audience when he visited us, and requested that he add ours to his contribution to relief work. We collected over $3,000 in donations. That goes a long way in Tibet!
Please join us in keeping the victims of this earthquake in our thoughts and prayers and assisting financially if you are able. So far, the following friends have contributed:
Boulder Quest Center
Daniel L. Dunn
Tony Griffin family
Stephen & Rumiko Hayes
Newbury Park Martial Arts
Jerry C. Townsend