Our Editor-in-Chief Melvin McLeod has laid out 10 reasons why Buddhism can be enriching to the ever-growing number of us who consider ourselves “Spiritual but not Religious.” (Click here to read Melvin’s introduction to this series, and here to check out the other reasons.) Here’s Reason #9:
It’s open, progressive, and not institutional.
While Buddhism in its Asian homelands can be conservative, convert Buddhists in the West are generally liberal, both socially and politically. Whether this is an accident of history or a natural reflection of the Buddhist teachings, Buddhist communities embrace diversity and work against sexism and racism. Identities of all sorts, including gender, nationality, ethnicity, and even religion, are not seen as fixed and ultimately true. Yet they are not denied; differences are acknowledged, celebrated, and enjoyed. Of course, Buddhists are still people and still part of a society, so it’s a work in progress. But they’re trying.
Many Americans have turned away from organized religion because it feels like just another bureaucracy, rigid and self-serving. Buddhism has been described as disorganized religion. There’s no Buddhist pope. (No, the Dalai Lama is not the head of world Buddhism. He’s not even the head of all Tibetan Buddhism, just of one sect.) There is no overarching church, just a loose collection of different schools and communities. As you’ll quickly discover if you go to your local Buddhist center, things may run smoothly (or not), but the atmosphere is likely to be open and relaxed. It probably won’t feel institutional.
Melvin McLeod’s “10 Reasons” article is also available in its entirety now as part of a digital booklet, “Buddhism for the Spiritual but not Religious,” free to new subscribers to the Shambhala Sun. Also included are “How it Helps Me,” featuring six non-Buddhists on how Buddhism has benefited their lives; three experts on whether Buddhism is a religion or not; and easy-to-follow instructions for getting started with meditation right now.
Just click here to subscribe and download the digital booklet. You’ll also save between 52% and 62% on your order.