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July 01, 2014


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I think the reasons behind the "why bother with it?" attitude may be, first, because no one here takes religion particularly seriously, except for the fundamentalists. People just jump from one practice to another, choosing aspects they like and ignoring the rest. They identify with the name and the outfits, but there's no personal investment. What's really important is work, family, and TV. Second, there's no economic value attached to religion, and it doesn't aggrandize the ego. Third, there's the idea "religion = superstition" because you can't measure it or really transfer it. You can only try to persuade others to practice and believe as you do, so you yourself feel more secure in your beliefs.

I've often wondered about hooking people up to a polygraph and asking them questions about their beliefs, and maybe finding out what they _actually_ believe (or disbelieve!) I even wonder about my own Zen teacher, the one with a double PhD. He believes in spirits and dragons flying around? Those trillions of Buddha-worlds?

We in Zen communities need to have one bit of basic (not blind) faith: that within each one of us is a baby buddha, and that our job is to awaken it, and that it is possible for me personally to awaken. Entertaining doubt about that one thing--and I can certainly see it in others and in myself--totally messes up practice and keeps us in the cycle of samsara.

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