This is something I preach from time to time, but I thought it worth saying again. Perhaps it is good to shout it clearly. Namely, in Buddhism, we have a strange attitude toward life and the universe ...
I would not call us "theists
". And I would not call us "atheists
"**. Yet we have a very definite gratitude, faith and confidence in this realm in which we live.
For we see and experience clearly the deep interconnection of all phenomena of this world, taste that our birth in sentient form was not but random outcome, sense a reason and direction to human life and all of creation, honor this place, express deep gratitude, trust and a willingness to allow all to be.
We are not "theists", for we do not ultimately require or cling to a particular 'god' or 'gods' to run the show. (That's not to say that we can't if we wish, and one can be a Zen Buddhist or Zennist while a Christian, Muslim, Jew or the like. We can. We neither require a "god", nor push any god away.).
We are not "atheists", as we do not see reality through nihilistic eyes, as merely cold, dead, chaotic, random and pointless, without guiding hand, system or path.*** (Again, one might combine Zen practice with such an outlook, but it might make one's practice something cold and dead in result).
I sometimes compare our attitude to that of innocent babes with a deep trust in this source and world that birthed us, that feeds us and which somehow allows us air to breathe. Sure, it is not a perfect place as we might always wish it to be (and certainly, if I were in charge of its making, I might choose to do things a bit differently), but it is an amazing place and a miracle that we are here. Do you know all that was involved in allowing that to be, in allowing you to be ... from the stars ... to the flowers and trees ... every twist and turn of history and natural conditions that allowed you to be?
No, as the spring time comes following the winter, and life returns ... I say that we are grateful to that which allows it all to be, and us to be. Thank you.
In dropping our sense of separate self, we trade our limited perspective (as but tiny cogs, pointlessly spinning) for a vision of the whole "Universal Machine" ... 'tis precisely us, and we are that. Amazing!! AMAZING!
Perhaps what we have is a deep faith in "god" ... but without the need or demand to know her name, her story or all that she wishes of us. We place no demands upon her, even the demand that she be "god".
We are alive, so I expect we should live! Gee, if something or someone went to all the trouble to let that be possible, then we should just go ahead with it and live our life well
... and, though I think it unlikely, even if it all just happened for no purpose at all, we had best go ahead with it and live our life well!
. In any case, live life well!
Seemingly, when we think of all the endless crossroads at which history might have gone otherwise ... all that was necessary for our lives to be here and now ... we should not be here. Yet here we are ... leading to the conclusion that we should be here. And whatever brought us here, we trust. Thank you.
We express a willingness to yield, to allow, to embrace. We Celebrate and Sink Right In!
Shout it from the Rooftops!
Endless deep bows of gratitude.
** Though one might be perhaps a "Theist" or an "Atheist" and still pursue Zen Practice, just as one might be a liberal or conservative, believer in U.F.O.s or not, man or woman, tall or short. Perhaps the only beliefs that might not fit with Zen Practice would be, for example, being a member of the KKK or a bomb-throwing terrorist ... due to the anger and violence there.
*** I have also been rightly criticized for associating all "atheists" with a nihilistic view of the universe, cold and dead and without purpose. I have since been corrected by several such folks, who let me know that not all atheists are of such a view.