April 25, 2016

Rationalism is my nirvana.

When I was a sophomore in college, I took my first comparative religion course. It was taught by the wife of an Army chaplain--someone who had traveled the world and who was committed to the chaplaincy mission of pluralism.

The religion that most fascinated me was Buddhism. This was a for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the biggest was that, as I've shared before, my mother forbid me from practicing yoga in high school because it was a Buddhist religious expression in her opinion.

One of the things I still love about Buddhism is the emphasis on process. The path to nirvana isn't immediate; it's a journey that is taken a step at a time. You refine it over a long period.

As I've entered secularism, I'm torn by an innate desire to know it all, right away. I want to be the perfect atheist, skeptic, rationalist. It's a constant struggle to remind myself that rationalism isn't a destination. It's a lifestyle, a way of thinking. It's a journey. To me, rationalism is my nirvana.

I recently ran across a quote attributed to Buddha that reminded me of this:

Secularism has oriented me in the right direction. Now it's my job to continue walking.

As I was thinking about it, I looked up more quotes from Buddha, and I ran across this one too:

No one can do it for me.

It was a timely reminder, and pointed out again how much I have changed over the last two years. As a Christian, I believed I was incapable of saving myself. I had to be saved. Everyone did.

As a secularlist, no one can save me. I have to do it. It's an empowering, if slightly daunting, idea. This isn't a path that ends. It's a quest that continues.

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