by Bo Flack.©
Recently I came to the well-thought-out conclusion
and decision to no longer label myself. I will no longer consider
myself as a member of a particular religious denomination or of
any particular religious philosophy or even consider myself as being
non-religious or atheist. I have what I believe to be the truth--my
truth--the truth as I see it. If someone wants to label me "Buddhist"
because I meditate and live by the five lay precepts, that is their
label. If they want to call me an "atheist" because I
don't believe in divine intervention, creationism, the divinity
of Christ, or any of the fundamental concepts of the Abrahamic religions,
"atheist" is their label, not mine. Do I believe in the
concept of an omniscient God who is all-knowing and all-seeing?
Clearly not. Do I believe in the various dogmas, rituals, and exclusionary
practices of organized religions? No. So why should I be labeled?
Even though I don't believe in organized religion, I do believe
in human spirituality. There is an unexplained energy in our lives
that has been labeled the soul, spirit, spirituality, or whatever.
I think organized religion comes from this as a way of trying to
Nevertheless, the Dharma has offered me an alternate explanation
of what this energy is and has shown me a different philosophy.
The Dharma is the closest that any religious writings have ever
come to fitting with the way I feel inside. No, I don't believe
in most of the ritual (even though it is there as representations
of things) or in the religious dogma. But the concepts of impermanence
and the goal of loving-kindness are two of the things that fit me
like a glove. Due to Dharma, meditation, and introspection, my mind
and thought processes have changed. Maybe I've matured too? Then
again, maybe the Dharma, self-awareness, and meditation have been
the reasons I've matured.
Out of the many things that Dharma has shown me, two that are especially
important are perspective and impermanence. I think and feel much
differently than before. My perspective has been radically altered
for the better, and my understanding of impermanence influences
my life everyday. I've never claimed to be a full-on, hard-core
Buddhist, but I am an adherent to the Buddhist philosophy. It has
changed my life. I tell people not to label me a Buddhist, but
to call me a man. I am not a label; I cannot truly be labeled. But
I am a man, at least in this life. And I intend to be a good man,
a good person, for the remainder of my stay in this incarnation.
The Dharma has helped me to be able to be who and what I truly am:
a person who cares about many things and intends to help others.