Buddhists and Quakers


Buddhists and Quakers

It seems to me that human beings are psychologically hard-wired to relish ritual and pageant. We are enthralled and impressed by it. The ploys of fancy dress, high hats, big thrones and sceptres always work. We apply ourselves to ritual washing and ostentatious prayer, chanting, singing and reciting with gusto and find it reassuring. We take the ornate palaces, cathedrals and mosques as proof. We see the Castles, Palaces, and pageant as evidence of unassailable power.

We are gullible and easily duped.

The same tactics rarely failed in the past. The planet is festooned with abandoned pyramids, stone-circles and mounds that are testament to past religions that have blossomed and perished. Ruined castles, sacked fortresses and toppled statues are testament to power overthrown.

Religion is about power. We have a need to feel that someone is in control – ultimately god, but in the meantime the imams, bishops, priests, cardinals, caliphs, popes and shaman will do.

Psychologically we need to feel our life has purpose, death is not the final curtain and the universe has meaning. That is understandable.

I too feel the power of the mystic around me even though I reject all religions as man-made power bases.

If I were to adopt a religion it would likely be one of two – either I would become a Quaker or a Buddhist.

Recently I have been having conversations with Quakers. I am impressed with their gentleness, kindness, tolerance and love of nature. Those are characteristics that I greatly value. I find it hard to tolerate fundamentalist extremists of any complexion. Their intolerance and viciousness appals me.

Likewise my experiences with Buddhist monks are the same. They were happy, pleasant, friendly people who were tolerant of other views. They projected ‘loving kindness’ to all sentient creatures. Their aim was personal peace, harmony and understanding. Their beliefs were flexible enough to accommodate differing opinions.

What a contrast that is to the dogmatic beliefs of evangelical Christians, fundamentalist Jews and ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and all the other fascist mobs and breeders of hatred. When I listen to those insane Southern fundamentalists quoting scripture at me on their god-induced mission to save the world from the devil I am filled with a mixture of amusement and horror. They really believe that horseshit.

Religion can be a source of great cruelty and evil.

If I was going to follow any religion, which I’m not (I can’t fully believe in the things in front of my eyes, let alone medieval scriptures I’m supposed to take on hearsay), I would settle for being a Quaker or a Buddhist. Those I am attracted to pantheism to. The pagans had some great ceremonies. Perhaps I’ll settle for being a non-practicing pagan. Those witches, warlocks and druids all look a bit silly, don’t they – dressed up in their fancy costume. But then that’s not much different to all these bishops in their big hats, the women in burkas, men with big beards, priests in robes Jews with funny hats and locks of hair, Sikhs in turbans, and the rest – all clinging to their medieval garb as if their god gives a damn.

No. I’ll stick with the antitheism. If it turns out there is a benevolent god and paradise it will be a bonus. Any god worth his/her salt wouldn’t hold my views against me. Any god who behaves in such a mean-spirited way is simply not worthy of the position

29 thoughts on “Buddhists and Quakers

  1. I worked in Dallas for a while in the late 90’s. They love a loud and shouty Pastor of good faith in these parts. An American work colleague introduced me to a form of entertainment enjoyed by himself and a few of his friends – and we’d go to one of these Christian rally’s (they’re held all the time) and sit up the back and just watch with a few beers. The healing and evicting the Devil ceremonies – talk about funny! I would leave exhausted from crying laughing for the last 2 hours. This was way better than any comedy club that I’ve ever been to.

  2. Surely everyone has the right to believe in whatever faith/religion/God they want. I know you are an atheist as is my Son but I have to say he is far more tolerant than you Opher. Forgive me I must say this I take great exception to you comparing ISIS with people from different Religions. You are a strong atheist that’s what you want, I believe in God and nothing will shake me from that, I do not attend any Church, I just believe in God and a life after. I have experienced quite a few things, I cannot explain but it has happened to me and I know they come from God, you can think me crazy that’s up to you. You just have this “hatred” for any kind of belief in God or faith or whatever you want to call it. Laugh at it, make a joke of it that’s up to you, but people have a right to whatever God they may want to believe in. Here endeth the Lesson.

    1. I’m not being intolerant Anna. I support everybodies right to believe in and follow whatever faith, religion or creed they want. I would fight for their right. I haven’t got a problem with that.
      My beef is with the extreme ends of religion. I do equate the Southern American evangelists with ISIS. ISIS is the same fundamentalist beliefs, extreme and intolerant, that is present in a minority of all religions. It is what led to hundreds of thousands being cruelly burnt to death in Britain and Europe, the genocides in South America, America, Australia and Africa. Religion was behind a lot of it (along with greed and power). They go out and use their scare tactics to frighten people. I’m not comparing ordinary people’s faiths – only the fanatics. Belief in God is a personal choice and I do not think it should be thrust on people, particularly children.
      I don’t know about your experiences. If you have had experiences that lead you to believe than that is great. I haven’t. If I had I might believe too. I wouldn’t make fun of other people’s beliefs. I’m sorry if that is what came across.

      1. I don’t believe in a Religious Faith, I am lapse RC as you know, but I do believe in God. There are things that have happened to me, even my youngest Son has experienced a few things in this house. As a Scientist you would have answers for all of this, but what I experienced when Jonathan was 6 months old and David (my late husband)heard but did not see as I did, it proved to me without doubt that God is there, now you can dismiss that but I know what I have seen I know what I have felt, I know in this last year what has happened to me, I can’t explain it. Forgive me maybe it’s being lapse Catholic but sometimes you remind me of the vicious section of the Northern Ireland Protestants, they won’t let go of the hatred for the Catholics yet they profess to love God – ONE GOD FOR ALL MEN. You do have this what comes over as ongoing hatred for God for all Religions. You cannot blame God or Religion for everything that appears wrong, Man causes War, Man causes Deaths, Man just Man they may use Religion as their excuse or God for what they do but MAN CAUSES ALL THE PROBLEMS NOT GOD. I trust we can speak openly like this and remain friends.

      2. Of course we can be friends. We might disagree on everything but still respect each other’s view.
        I do not mean to come across as hate-filled. That’s not what I feel. It might be what comes across in my rants. I respect your beliefs and experience. Haven’t had any myself. I respect people’s rights to whatever beliefs they hold and would fight for them to have that right.
        And you are right – it is what people do in the name of religion that is so evil. It is not the religion itself (though I would take exception to some of the bloody and hate-filled commandments in the old testament and Koran). I believe in love, wonder and tolerance.
        I think that what I said to Cheryl sums up why I keep on about religion. It is the bombings, Sharia law, barbaric torture, wars, burqas, enslavement of women, destruction of the environment, overpopulation, indoctrination of children, abuse and ………. that gets to me. Read what I said to Cheryl.
        I don’t mean to sound hateful. Pull me up when I cross the line. My beef is with religion not god. If there is a god I know he isn’t the blood-thirsty psychopath portrayed in ISIS and the Hell-fire breathing Baptists.

  3. I didn’t know we disagreed on everything, there we go. I respect and understand what you are saying about ISIS and all they are doing, but I do feel it’s not so much as the faith they claim to me what they do they use the faith as the excuse to do it. ISIS is hell bent on killing, torturing and turning all women into nothing but sex slaves. This business of rape and sexual assault in Germany is nothing more than rising the Germans because they know how the Germans feel about this – it is said there was not one woman left in Berlin that was not Raped by the Russians during the last War. ISIS got the reaction exactly as they wanted, now they are doing it elsewhere, wait for it to happen here it’s only a matter of time. This is pure violence, taking control not what they really believe it’s what they want. I hate violence, abuse (I have had my share) I want tolerance. love but people are people Opher and Wars will continue, hatred and intolerance nothing will change, we can try and change it but nothing will happen.

    1. I think we agree on most things. I didn’t mean that to come across that way.
      Disagreement is OK though. It’s good to hear what people say. It makes you weigh things up and think. Thinking is great. It makes you change your mind.
      I have to live in hope that people can change, that civilisation will get better and not destroy the planet, that we can put an end to war and violence.
      Taking the long view, in general, I think people have become better over the last few hundred years. That gives me hope. We have to keep trying. The alternative is too appalling to think about.
      That’s why I write and blog. It may be futile but it’s better than nothing.

      1. I think people have certainly become better informed about matters of war. The film archive since WW2, has surely been an educator of untold magnitude. It is not surprising that we have not seen a major war take place in any first world country since then (or have I forgotten about some). Indeed, it is too appalling to think about – and I think we as people living in the first world have dome that thinking and concluded the only thing to be concluded – No Wars. Maybe one day the rest of the world can catch up, maybe.

      2. They still get whipped up into an hysteria though.
        With the help of long-term perspective I believe it is possible to see that we are becoming less aggressive and warlike. Given a bit more time perhaps we can crawl out of the dark ages.
        I hope so.
        War is totally and utterly useless and stupid. There has to be better ways of dealing with issues.
        I think you’re right. Now we can see exactly what goes on we are more appalled by it. There’s no room for bravery and courage against bombs.

    2. When I taught in the USA in 1979/80 the woman teaching in the room next to me was German. She had been a fourteen year old girl in Berlin when the city was ‘liberated’ by the Americans. She said that most of the soldiers were young seventeen year old boys. The older soldiers had been killed earlier and replaced by younger and younger recruits. She never said a word about what happened. But she told me that if the families of those young men knew what they had done in Berlin they would never have let them back into their homes.

  4. I totally relate to everything you say in this post; I share your views exactly! I have even had the same ‘ if I was ever to take up religion’ thoughts as you in relation to Quakerism.

    1. Good to hear – though it restricts the possibility of debate.
      Nice to hear from you! It would be interesting to hear your take on my other posts.

  5. Ah! You know you could be a non theist Buddhist Quaker or be like me and be an Attender! I do like the people I meet at Quaker meetings and the actions they get involved in. One has been an ecumenical accompanier in Palestine. Kate in Palestine is her WordPress blog.

  6. No debate from me, I’m afraid, as I agree with every word. One thing that occurs to me, though, is whether our hot-wired desire for ritual could be harnessed to ecological awareness – a sort of celebration rite perhaps. It wouldn’t be magical except for the way it would focus all our energy on preservation and act as a detox from consumerism. Being happy with simple things, perhaps …

    1. That sounds good to me Dave. The two major ritualistic things we organise seem to be religious or military. Some ecological rituals would be great and long overdue. Kill two birds with one stone (not that we want to go killing birds!).

      1. Right, that’s the green light then! And talking of birds, maybe I could start with old proverbs about the natural world … there must be a fund of inherited wisdom there. Cheers!

  7. To you Opher and Andrew, yes we can live in the hope that there will be no more Wars like World War II, but what would we do if say ISIS became so unstoppable that they attacked every European Country, do we stand by and do nothing of course not and the thought of what would come as a result of that I do not want to think about, probably would not be here. If Jeremy Corbyn was PM just say (and I do like him Opher) talking to ISIS would stop the War! I could say if Women ran the World there would be no Wars no woman would send her Son to war, no I am not a feminist, I have always preferred the company of men. As a Mother I would hide/protect my Sons from War. Here I end, and let Andrew come in if he wants to, he is very knowledgeable re World History.

    1. I don’t think ISIS will prove too unstoppable. But ISIS was the result of the mess war has left in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Same with Sudan, Yemen and Lebanon. Whenever there is a vacuum there are unscrupulous fascists ready and willing to seize power and exploit the anarchy.

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