Thursday, 20 August 2009

Greetings

Hello all,

Since this is my first post on Progressive Buddhism as a contributor I figure I should introduce myself and explain a little of how I became involved with Buddhism. First off I have a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy and I am currently attending film school; right in the middle of a two year diploma program. I actually started my post secondary education as a Management student thinking that a career in Human Resources would be the best career for me. Thanks to a particularly competent high school teacher, who commented that I had a very philosophical outlook on things, I decided to take Philosophy 1000 as part of my general studies requirements. I lasted about a month as a management student and by semester two I had officially switched my major to Philosophy.

Such a move raised an important question from those around me: “what are you going to do with a degree in philosophy?” Admittedly this is a valid question. After all I had given up on a degree that would ensure a solid middle management position, nice salary, and likely some decent benefits for the real world life I would soon be exposed to. But there was something about philosophy that captivated me and since I have never been one to follow the crowd I decided to go with something I’d enjoy. Turns out my decisions was right, I discovered I had a talent for philosophy as well as a particular dislike for “normal” jobs. I honestly had no idea what I was going to do with a philosophy degree, but I knew that it was something that I enjoyed and felt that it fit with who I am.

Growing up in a particularly non-religious home I was never really directly exposed to religion but through the media and people I met in life I was well aware of the role it plays on the world stage. Since philosophy encourages one’s thirst for knowledge I began taking religious studies course to find out all I could about this strange phenomenon I had only experienced through others. I found the academic approach taken to be particularly efficient when it came to illustrating where each tradition came from, what they believed, and why they believed it in that particular way. We made our way through all the Abrahamic Traditions and it was all pretty interesting, but once we got to Buddhism things changed for me.

A funny thing happens when you place religions side by side and analyze them rationally and objectively. Anything you had been skeptical about before hand becomes more pronounced, irrational logic becomes blindly obvious, and any doubt regarding whether or not your own beliefs will coincide with a religion is erased. Now, it wasn’t at this moment that I became a Buddhist, still not exactly sure if I’m a full-fledged Buddhist yet, but it seemed I had found a set of beliefs that was consistent with my own. I ended up taking every Buddhist related course my university offered, including a graduate level course where we had to come up with a new perspective on Buddhism.

Since then I have been constantly reevaluating my beliefs as a Buddhist, attempting to figure out if it’s appropriate for me to identify with this particular religion. I am not someone who believes that anyone one set of beliefs will bring us “truth,” actually believing such a thing would be contradictory to who I am. I am a philosopher; I love learning new things and firmly believe that true knowledge comes from many different sources. When you shut your mind to a set of beliefs you shut your mind off to any knowledge that system may offer you. At the very least you shut your mind off to a source of experience in your life.

Thinking about this with respect to Buddhism led me to a rather comforting conclusion. Buddhism doesn’t require you to be a completely devoted and unyielding follower, it encourages learning and experience. One needs only to listen to one of the many Buddhist leaders to know that Buddhism has a lot to offer, but you need not shut your mind to other systems to benefit from Buddhism. Knowing this I began to identify with the religion to the point when people inquired about my beliefs I would identify with Buddhism. It is a system of beliefs that is more consistent with my own beliefs than it is different because of this it makes sense for me to identify with it.

I hope this gives you an idea of where I’m coming from and the approach I take to Buddhism and Buddhist topics. I am glad to be here and look forward to discussing the progressive form of Buddhism this blog represents.

4 comments:

  1. Welcome Joesph, and enjoy the ride!

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  2. “what are you going to do with a degree in philosophy?”

    Carl Icahn has a degree in philosophy.

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  3. Welcome, Joseph! It's funny how similar our stories are with respect to education. I, too, started out in business school (accounting emphasis) and then fell in love with philosophy; then Buddhism, also taking every Buddhism course offered.

    I went on to get an MA in Buddhist Studies (an MA in BS?) and now am working on a Ph.D. What drew you to film school and away from further philosophy or Buddhist studies?

    I look forward to reading more of your posts here in the future. Best wishes, Justin...

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  4. very happy to know that u chose the Line which u liked....
    I wasnt able to do it and forced to do Engineering...
    Luckily i found a line within engineering which greatly intrested me.

    ReplyDelete

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