Buddhism seems like a lovely religion, doesn’t it? Its track record of harm caused (or rather, not caused) in the world throughout history is nothing other than outstanding compared to other religions, which, I assume, is why Buddhism is held in uniquely high esteem among the general population. Sure, it requires or at the very least expects you to believe strange things about life, the universe, and everything, but that’s just what religion is, innit?
Reincarnation is one aspect of Buddhism that I find fascinating and also strangely exciting to think about. I’ve read that, according to Buddhists, humans can be reborn as humans or animals (and vice versa). This has led me to ponder whether I would prefer being reincarnated as a human or an animal. I have to say I really don’t know. I mean, what if you’re reborn as a pig? The prospect doesn’t seem very thrilling at all. But what if you’re reborn as an owl? Who who knows what that would be like? It could be a lot of fun. What if you’re reborn as a gorilla? You could be Harambe’s second coming! Most interestingly, what if you’re reborn as death itself and then die by slipping on a banana peel? (Neither animal nor human, I know, but I find it rather funny to picture.)
Unfortunately, this is about everything to do with Buddhism that I find exciting. True, excitement is never really a priority on any religion’s mission statement, but even then Buddhism does seem especially unappealing to me. I’m even prepared to one up myself and say that I find Buddhism nothing other than dull, dull, unbearably dull. To support this crass claim, I’m going to have a look at the dogmatic aspects of Buddhism and preview a small selection of basic Buddhist precepts (found on some ‘Buddhism for beginners’ website). So, the following are things that are expected or at the very least strongly encouraged if you intend to consider yourself a Buddhist:
“To undertake the training to avoid sensual misconduct. This precept is often mistranslated or misinterpreted as relating only to sexual misconduct but it covers any overindulgence in any sensual pleasure such as gluttony as well as misconduct of a sexual nature.” As far as I’m aware, there are exactly two reasons to have sex: procreation and pleasure. For Buddhists, the latter is out of the question, meaning if there’s no intention to impregnate a woman, you’ll have to keep it in your pants. As an amateur Buddhist who wasn’t aware of this you might have just inadvertently exclaimed a very audible “Oh fuck!”. Unfortunately, that is precisely what you’re not allowed to do. And yeah, never binge on crisps or ice cream ever again.
“To undertake the training to abstain from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness.” No alcohol, no drugs. Seems reasonable enough.
“To undertake the training to abstain from using high or luxurious beds.” Although I sleep on a low bed with a medium to hard mattresses—without prior training #bragging—I feel like this requirement would put a lot of people off Buddhism, though worse is still to come.
“To abstain from dancing, singing, music and entertainments as well as refraining from the use of perfumes, ornaments and other items used to adorn or beautify the person.” Say goodbye to listening to Beyoncé’s music, goodbye to watching Beyoncé’s videos, goodbye to singing along to Beyoncé’s songs, goodbye to dancing along to Beyoncé’s songs, goodbye to using Beyoncé’s perfumes (she has some, I did my research), and, most heartbreakingly, say goodbye to touching yourself to photos of Beyoncé (there’s the reason why my research took a bit longer than it should have).
I think what I’m trying to say by enumerating these criteria is this: Dear upper class Californian princess of kale smoothie selfies, plastic surgery, and spinning classes, you are not a Buddhist. If you have merely borrowed some elements of Buddhism, please do not call yourself a Buddhist. Unless you do it ironically or satirically, it’s disrespectful to the people who devote their lives to this faith. You wouldn’t call yourself a mathematician just because you can add up 7 and 5, would you? And if you think being a Buddhist is worth mentioning over and over again to every single person in your social circle as well as absolute strangers just because you think it’s going to make you more interesting, then Buddhism is probably not for you, I’m afraid to say.
Yet another aspect that is derived from the central ideas featured in the basic precepts is to do with attachment. You should at all costs avoid getting emotionally attached to inanimate objects because matter is only appearance, whereas spirituality is the essence of everything. Matter is ephemeral, whereas the spiritual is eternal. There are of course some things that I would recommend you do not get attached to, most prominently revolving doors. However, so what if all objects are ephemeral? That doesn’t affect their capacity to carry meaning in the slightest. A rollercoaster ride can be incredibly enlivening, even if it ends. Your favourite song is always worth listening to, even if it ends. I would even claim that, very plainly said, if things ‘went on forever’, all meaning would ultimately be lost. It is also very natural for objects to acquire sentimental value because they accompany us through various emotionally important stages of our lives. And that association alone can be enough for something like an electric guitar or a wooden mallard to become a great inanimate friend. So my advice stands in the starkest contrast with that of Buddhists: By all means, do get attached! (particularly if you’re a bungee jumper. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for reincarnation.)
Please bear in mind that nothing I have written in the previous paragraphs can in any way be interpreted or construed as a justification to ever use YOLO or carpe diem. If you use either of those expressions unironically you are and always will be a twat.
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