Once people consider and adopt a religion (anything can be a religion by the way), they should practice it sincerely. Some people claim to have faith in their religion but act counter to its ethical and moral teachings. There is little point in such people describing themselves as religious.Today the world faces a crisis related to lack of respect for spiritual principles and ethical values. Such virtues cannot be forced on society by legislation or by science, nor can fear inspire ethical conduct. Rather, people must have conviction in the worth of ethical principles so that they want to live ethically.
Modern science, up until now, has confined itself to studying phenomena that are material in nature. Scientists largely examine only what can be measured with scientific instruments, limiting the scope of their investigations and their understanding of the universe. Phenomena such as rebirth and the existence of the mind as separate from the brain are beyond the scope of scientific investigation. Some scientists, although they have no proof that these phenomena do not exist, consider them unworthy of consideration. But there is reason for optimism. In recent years, I have met with many open-minded scientists from many backgrounds and educations. We have had mutually beneficial discussions that have highlighted our common points as well as our diverging ideas – expanding the world views of scientists and Buddhists in the process.
The biggest problems we face as a world and society have been with us for many years now – materialism and consumerism. Religion values purpose and conduct, whereas consumerism lures us toward immediate happiness through things and consumption. Faith traditions stress inner satisfaction and a peaceful mind, while materialism says that happiness comes from external objects. Religious values such as kindness, generosity and honesty get lost in the rush to make more money and have more and “better” possessions. Many people’s minds are confused about what happiness is and how to create its causes.
If you study the Buddha’s teachings, you may find that most of them are in harmony with your views on societal values, science and consumerism while some of them are not. This is where The Buddha taught that as individual we must find and test our own limits, concepts and actions. We test them through daily actions and outcomes. We investigate the sources of our days and actions within those days. So on your path you walk and you continue to investigate and reflect on what you discover. In this way, whatever conclusion you reach will be based on reason, not simply on tradition, peer pressure or blind faith.
Peace and Love, Jim