I have been gone for almost a year. A friend of mine challenged me about my skepticism against all things supernatural and religion in particular, He said that if i went to India and Tibet and saw how peaceful and good Hindus and Buddhists where i would change my mind and see that religion was good for humanity and so on, yadidada ad infinitum, the usual bullshit.
Luckily i have the means, so i took him up on it. In return if i didn’t change my mind, he would have to switch to my side. Ie: militant anti-religion’ism.
Firstly let me point out that my trip was excellent, we smoked a lot of weed, had a lot of great sex, partied like it was 1999 and in general had a jolly good old time.
For over 3 months i staid with monks in a monastery in Tibet, i ate like them, worked the fields, slept like them, trained like them, and did a lot of meditation. (their beds really suck by the way)
As far as religions are concerned Buddhism is more like a benign tumor compared to the aggressive virulent cancer that is for instance Islam or Christianity.
Its founded on what the Buddhists call “Four Noble Truths”. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. More simply put, suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and it has a cause to bring about its end.
The notion of suffering as i understand it is not intended to convey a negative world view, but rather, a pragmatic perspective that deals with the world as it is, and attempts to rectify it. The concept of pleasure is not denied, but acknowledged as fleeting. Pursuit of pleasure can only continue what is ultimately an unquenchable thirst. The same logic belies an understanding of happiness. In the end, only aging, sickness, and death are certain and unavoidable. They also believe in reincarnation, and that is just so indescribably stupid that i wont bother getting into it.
Just like all other religions, Buddhism tries to take the our wonderfully complex relationships and the interwoven messy world we live in and reduce it to a few grossly inadequate simplifications.
I guess i experienced spirituality during the monastery stay, but to connect the feeling of well being you can achieve through meditation with some kind of super being in the sky is betraying the entire experience.
now for the first week i couldn’t get into the zone when meditating, i think this is because i was still full of proteins vitamins and minerals from a good western diet, and it took about a week of eating nothing but vegetables and rice before my body was weakened enough for my mind to enter a sort of transient state. At least i think it is the food because after a visit to the nearest town where i gobbled down a burger, fries and copious amounts of coke i was unable to reach this transient state again for a few days.
The combination of little sleap, hard work (and i mean these monks work their butt off for ten hours a day) inadequate food without proper nutriments and the body can slip into a sort of peaceful restive state. Almost like what you feel when you smoke pot, except you don’t suffer the short term memory loss. The combination sleep deprivation, exhaustion and starvation probably alters the brain chemistry and gives a sense of content and pease.
It really pissed me off when, in my eyes this profound experience was utterly betrayed by linking it to pointless superstitious mumbo jumbo.
Why not let the experience be good for the sake of the experience? why the fuck do you have to go and soil the experience by dragging it through the filthy cesspool of superstitious religious bullshit?
Anyways, i had many long discussions with the monks, and i would say Buddhisms only redeeming feature is its willingness to be criticized without automatically rejecting any criticism with reference to some historical “supposed” absolute truth.
So even though i became very good friends with many of them, during my entire stay i vehemently opposed all the ridiculous dogma, the strange thing is that the monks respected me mainly because of this, and i was impressed with the way they would approach me for my opinion on issues they themselves struggled with.
I guess they where not used to question the written word in their beliefs, they instead had a tradition of excusing or adopting, some times shoehorning the written word into something that could be reflected in reality. Sort of the same way Islamic scholars try to interpret that the Koran is describing modern scientific discoveries.
Anyways they seamed to enjoy their new way of interpreting their world view via me, and i respect that.
This of course also created friction between the older and younger monks since the older the monks where the less they wanted to change or adjust their world view, they where less interested in going outside their familiar little cocoon of absolute knowledge.
I guess you could say that my trip was a spiritual one and it really illustrated how much religion cheapens our experience of self and our voyage through this fantastic and wonderful world on the journey that is our life.
Religion undoubtedly prevents us from really experiencing the true wonders of our world, it replaces all the amazing stuff with simple cheap lies, pointless superstition and prevents us from reaching our full potential….
The end result is that i oppose religion much, much, much, more than i ever did. After my stay with the supposedly holy people.