One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction,
is intelligent among men,
and he is in the transcendental position,
although engaged in all sorts of activities.1
The Bhagavad Gita. My wife has been carting around a gorgeous copy of it for years. Researching Buddhism and Hinduism2 and especially studying the differences between them is fascinating. And not having to speak to *actual* Buddhists or Hindus is also helpfully objective.
"Karma ultimately means to accept responsibility for who we are and what we do. We often rail at the ides of so-called cosmic injustice, blaming God for the problems that may befall us or society at large, but if we begin to properly understand the parameters of karma, we can take hold of our own lives and our whole spiritual destiny."3
This. This is what I do. I not only preach personal responsibility (easy to do), I practice it (much more difficult to do). I train my children in its awesome fulfilling power through examples they can understand. I remember when I thought everything I knew was all there was to know. That ignorance in myself then, makes me giggle now. Especially when I run across it in others. I know something that they do not. Its like holding the answer to a cosmic secret.
But while Buddhism is also a karmic religion, and while I am constantly surprised to find how I live my life follows very closely to its philosophy already, were I to have the proverbial gun to my head to make a choice as to which one of the two to embrace as a belief, I would choose the more hedonistic Hinduism any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Its the difference between "The activity of sex will never ultimately satisfy the desire for sex..."4 and "Try not to sleep with another man's wife."5 Not don't or suffer eternal damnation. Rather, "Try to not." That cracks me up. Of course later sacred texts appear to have since been modified to incorporate more modern values,6 just like the bible. Sacred my ass. Can you imagine if every follower of every religion studied the history of their own religious texts rather than relaying on faith that it is immutably the inspired Word of [Diety]?
Or I might just become a Sherpa in Nepal. They make no distinction between Hinduism and Buddhism - three flavors of Buddhism - all probably varying degrees of a more watered-down version of the other. I've heard it stated that every Christian denomination is just a less-harsh version of Catholicism. Each "new" faith just an easier version of the one before it. Looking around me today, that makes a lot of sense. Its like I said in another post, imagine if Christ, rather than Buddha had said, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” This world would be a *very* different place.
If you think I've been incorrigible up to this point - you haven't seen anything yet. My wife has chosen twenty-twelve as the year of self-discovery. What I've done this past year was only identify the edges of the envelope. Its now time to push past them.
1 - Chapter 4, Verse 18
2 - Karma
3 - http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Hinduism/Articles/An-American-Hindu-Monk-In-Manhattan.aspx
4 - http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma5/sex.html
5 - The margins of Hindu marriage: essays on gender, religion, and culture, Harlan & Courtright, p 161
6 - Hindu iconoclasts, Salmond, pp 65-91