A Catholic acquaintance recently asked about the purpose of reincarnation. “… do Buddhists want us just to be zombies, no desire or wishes? They simply continue to be born again.” To which I replied, “Good question. At a very high level, I believe the purpose is to end suffering.”
My response really didn’t address his question. But internally debating, could one presume that organized religion (regardless of faith) changes human conduct towards the better on a global and statistical scale? To me, this very idea is replete with examples tending demonstrate otherwise. Not even Buddhism. So if people hold Buddhism on higher regard compared to other religious faiths it has to be for other reason.
For me, it’s about being guided by the spiritual. While I am conscious of this physical world, I am more influenced and moved by the spiritual. Simply saying we are a spirit in a body says little, but believing there is a spiritual side to which all of us can connect, where thoughts and feelings are freely exchanged just as you and I converse is powerful.
The reason most of us cannot hear the spiritual side is that many people who, in the face of an incredibly complicated world, are absolutely convinced that they alone understand the way that the world works. Unfortunately, the world is simply far too complex to understand in such a manner. They miss the key of humility, a willingness to abandon complex vision of religion and live in faith. Once one accepts the humility of faith, we can find and understand the spiritual form of compassion.
In our daily life, compassion too often comes in the form of feel-good news feature pieces or sidebars about heroic people most could never become. Our cultural representation of compassion has been deadened by idealistic images and misses the beautification many spiritual leaders exuded. The real compassion of Christ, the real compassion of Buddha, the real love of Gandhi crosses religious, spiritual and ethical traditions while simultaneously transcending them.
This deep well of spiritual compassion is intertwined with clemency and reunion. And in this light, God invites us to live and communicate compassionately, to bathe in the face of Christ or to absorb the love of Buddha in everything and everyone. Doing so allows us to live a life in the spiritual.
Galileo said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their use.” Those classic scientists believed that understanding the natural world was the best way to understand the mind of its maker. But to live in a spiritually connected world means we understand that there’s more to simply living. We begin to appreciate that we’re the only creatures with the capacity to possibly have a deep interconnected relationship to God and perceive life in greater depth.
This is the way I choose to see the world. I want to live with those friends, present and passed, in front of my eyes and in my life. It’s about absolute love. It’s not always about religious things and not always about spiritual things. More importantly, it’s living each moment in spiritual compassion, a simply reality that’s rendered time and again.
Compassion and love are the real reasons I live in Buddha and reside in the moment.
How about you?