Many Westerners fall into the same trap. While wrestling with the idea of whether there is a “God” or not, they just assume that either their own culture’s concept of Ultimate Reality is true, or it is false. And if it’s false, then atheism is the automatic and only other choice. They seem to be completely unaware of several crucial points:
1. Western civilization’s concept of “God” is merely one of many possible views on a Greater Reality. Other views, such as the ones found in Buddhism, Taoism, and Advaita Vedanta, are completely different and far more profound. The biggest difference is that they do not imagine the Greater Reality to be a separate “being” from you.
2. Western culture’s (meaning traditional Christianity’s) concept of a Greater Reality is one of the more simplistic and childish of all such concepts. I consider traditional Christianity to be a kindergarten-level religion, with a concept of “God” so silly that anyone not raised in such a culture would find it merely laughable. I taught a high school World Religions class for several years in Thailand, and very few of my students had been raised in a Christian culture. Almost without exception, they found traditional Christianity to be absurd. It was inconceivable to them how so many Westerners could actually believe in such things. This is the view of most people around the world who have not been raised in a Christian culture and indoctrinated with such primitive religious ideas.
3. Realizing that the concept of “God” taught by orthodox Christianity is absurd does not in any way mean that there are no Greater Realities besides the physical world, or that life does not continue after “death”. Those are completely separate questions.
4. The truth is, there are indeed Greater Realities beyond the physical world, and life does continue after what we call “death”. But it has nothing at all to do with what Christianity teaches, or with what any organized religion says, per se.
5. So the question is not, “Is the primitive concept of God as taught by Christianity true?” Rather, the question should be, “Is there a Greater Reality beyond the physical world, and an afterlife of some kind?” Then, you’re not stuck on trying to prove or disprove some kindergarten-level idea of Ultimate Reality. You can examine far more advanced and sensible concepts of Ultimate Reality such as that found in Buddhism – that Consciousness itself is Ultimate Reality, and it’s not a separate being from you. Rather, it’s what you actually are on a deeper level. It is your essential nature, which is Awareness itself. Image/CrisRodrigues, fanpop.com
[This article was also published in www.thezenspirit.com by the same author.]
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