Everything I knew about Buddhism and the Dalai Lama I learned from Facebook memes

By Kat, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor

dali lama meme

Until recently, everything I learned about Buddhism and the Dalai Lama I learned from Facebook memes, which meant it was pretty much limited to some feel-good pull quotes espousing some fairly logical, universalsounding truths. It was a start and I was intrigued, so I looked up the Dalai Lama’s website. He’s a pretty hip dude who has accomplished quite a lot for being a “simple Buddhist monk.”

Instead of skipping straight to the Dalai Lama’s teachings, I instead decided to further investigate the origins of Buddhism. I listened to a few comparative religion podcasts and got some books about the subject.

I really liked what John Snellling says in The Buddhist Handbook, right up front on page 3:

Buddhism does not demand that anyone accepts its teachings on trust. The practitioner is instead invited to try them out, to experiment with them. If he finds that they work in practice, then by all means he can take them on board. But there is no compulsion; and if he happens to find the truth elsewhere or otherwise, then all is good.

This point is reiterated on page 43:

Buddhism is not a fundamentalist religion. Its teachings are not dogmas or articles of faith that have to be blindly accepted at the cost of suspending reason, critical judgement, common sense, or experience. Quite the contrary, in fact; their basic aim is to help us gain direct insight into the truth for ourselves. We are therefore invited to try these teachings in our everyday lives. If they work, then we will want to naturally take them on board. If they don’t work for us, then we can cast them aside with no qualms.

The Noble Eightfold Path (detailed on page 46) also holds basic appeal, and the echo (or are perhaps echoed?) by Paul in Philippians 4:8 (NIV) where he says:

whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

The Noble Eightfold Path is as follows:

  1. Right understanding
  2. Right thought
  3. Right speech
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

If people are focused on doing/thinking/acting on what is right, pure, lovely admirable, excellent and praiseworthy in all aspects of their life, then their lives will likely neatly mesh with the eight “right” things.

My take-away from Buddhism is this: I like the message, I like the aspect of kindness, the lack of dogma and faith. I’m a little fuzzy on the issues of reincarnation and nirvana, but Buddhism seems to encourage people to take what works for them in a way Christianity does not. I don’t feel comfortable labeling myself a Buddhist, but I do feel the noble eightfold path is a useful system through which to filter thoughts and actions.

Why I’m doing this

I started my journey away from Christian Science a little over six years ago. I had been struggling to make it work, and a series of pivotal, life-changing events finally forced me to acknowledge that Christian Science was not right for me.

Leaving Christian Science was one of the most difficult things I’ve done, and I don’t want anyone to feel they have to do it alone. I have been fortunate to have the support of my husband, and a group of close fellow-former-Christian Science friends, as I’ve made my journey way.

I’m launching the sort of support website for former Christian Scientists that I wanted when I started on my journey away from Christian Science. I don’t want to focus on the gut-wrenching horror stories many of us have in our pasts, I want to focus on helping people get the appropriate care and support they need.

I am not going to tell you which spiritual path you should take, I’m going to encourage you to find your own. I don’t want to save your soul, I want you to take care of your body so you can have a long and healthy life. I don’t want you to feel alone, or crazy, as you leave Christian Science, I want you to realize there are others out there who have left as well, and it is okay to question, doubt, and leave. I want to help direct you to resources you may find useful on your journey, support communities, articles on healthcare, books.

Peace be with you,

Kat

Founder & Editor in Chief
The Ex-Christian Scientist