Buddhism 101: It’s What’s Inside that Counts…

If you’re looking for Gods out there, then good luck, because the source of all godliness is inside. And this pertains heavily to the preeminent issue in the history of religion, whether there is one god or many, and it turns out that the answer may instead be ‘none of the above,’ the Kantian solution to a Cartesian problem, any dualism only apparent, when the real issue is the One or the Many…

The problem of plurality is obvious, just add a god or two for every new situation, even if you’re really just adding another statue or sculpture along the way, thus another manifestation or appearance of a primordial god, rather than a new god itself, him or herself. Because what is a god really and truly worth, if you can simply create a new one on demand?

This gets into what I would call the ‘Cargo Cult Conundrum’ in which one might erroneously be led into thinking that a longer runway or a higher control tower might attract the really big cargo 747’s with the really good stuff, straight from some celestial factory drawn directly by the supplications of the sentimental and superstitious. But if God is really just an inner projection, then the outer trappings are just that, so much decoration and nothing more nothing less.

Monotheism was a huge development in the history of religion, usually credited to the Jews, and the Christians and Muslims who came after them in droves, as if everything that came before was polytheistic, and lesser in development. If this is to assume that focus is better than the scatter-shot, then they may be on to something, but I don’t think that’s the heart of the matter.

I think the gist is that multiple gods are simply too costly, in terms of time, effort, and money, and there you can find much logic. A superstitious view of religion is simply to assume that the more that is invested, then the greater the reward, when there is no evidence to support that. The only thing certain is that giving can feel good, when it is given with faith in deliverance, regardless of the whys and wherefores.

So now we can simply skip the intermediate steps, if we all agree that God is but a manifestation of our innermost needs and desires, so the trappings can be laid aside and we can work on training our minds toward truth, beauty, and goodness without all the random superstitions tossed in for good measure.

And that is what Buddhism does, at its best, it goes straight to the heart of the matter, all gods optional, all articles of faith tentative. Because to be a good Buddhist, you really don’t have to do anything. You can meditate in a cave all your life, and go down in history as a maharishi par excellence. Or you can give and donate till your pockets are bare, and it’s all the same.

The most important thing is what you don’t do. Do no harm. Do no kill. Do not steal. Etcetera etcetera, Five Precepts are almost identical to the Ten commandments, and that is likely no accident. The only thing certain is negation, and that is quantifiable, and measurable. What you do is your choice, the sea of probabilities. We are all connected on the inside, and that is where it counts…