Tonight I went back to class after two weeks of absence and two weeks of break. Somewhere in there I had missed the wrapping up of our Islam component and tonight we moved on to Buddhism.
I have a funny past with Buddhism. I have identified as a Christian in some way or another for as long as I have had memory, but there was a little moment in there, when I was in my mid teens, when I thought that it would be fair to give another religion a geniune look-in. It wasn’t just a random decision. For quite a few years I had been stretching my mind a little bit, trying to come to my own ideas about who God is and what humans are and why the world is the way that it is. I’d read Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder and was empowered to think my own thoughts. Saz, Aviea, Elwin and I met together for our “Pancake Philosophy” times, when we would make pancakes and share our own musings about knowledge and spirituality. Of course, usually that just happened without the pancakes. In my Asian Studies subject in year 9 and 10 I was exposed to new Eastern philosophies and spirituality. There were excursions – to the Chinese Gardens, to a Buddhist art exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, to the Nan Tien Temple outside Wollongong. And in the middle of that, a short exchange trip to Japan. Through all of that Buddhism was the most appealing alternate way of thinking so I checked it out – seriously.
I didn’t hang around there for very long though. Buddhism teaches an amazing view of the world. There is incredibly complex logic that doesn’t make sense at first but becomes fascinatingly clear as you learn to adjust your thinking. However even when the clarity came, the worldview remained chillingly cold. There was no motivation for love. From my perspective, there was no motivation for anything at all. It was beautiful to look at but way too awful for me to actually incorporate into my life.
Tonight was a funny throwback to that period of my life. It was weird to revisit Buddha as an adult, now that I am much better at excercising my brain and appreciating different worldviews (thanks uni!) and also fully convinced of how much Jesus loves me (thanks uni!). Interestingly, I found Buddhism both more beautiful and more repellent than I did all those years ago. It’s funny how things go like that.