Humanism or Vague Buddhism, Part II
I added this just now:
"Jaume has spoken most directly to what I am trying to get my finger on specifically, as has the Enforcer. I would like to have Ogre's optimism but I don't see the evidence to support it; specifically, I don't think that our emphasis on 'show me' religion is much different than any muscular version of Judaism or Christianity, or any other engaged faith tradition.
Furthermore, if we truly believed in the religion of treating people well, our congregations would provide evidence for that, and they don't. I would very much like to believe that UUs deeply and passionately embrace the ethic of incarnating Love above all (as Ogre says, it's a radical idea), but I don't think we are. Again, our level of in-fighting, congregational conflict and mediocre hospitality proves that this is not, in actuality, our religion.
If this is the 'new, solid and crystalline' ethic of our future, I'd like to see evidence of that somewhere.
The Dalai Lama said, 'My religion is kindness.' I think all UUs can respect and resonate with that. ALL of us. If that's true, I ask again, what are the spiritual practices & disciplines, devotional materials and worship resources and teachers that we agree would guide us there, since we so clearly have a long way to go?
Hence my question about 'vague Buddhism.' I suspect that we are, in fact, moving to a consensus that the religion of kindness and action is our raison d'etre, and away from worrying or caring how to articulate the theological foundations beneath that religion of kindness and Doing. We move into 'vague Buddhism' because we can't just get together on Sundays and read poems and talk about how good we're trying to be. Our rich heritage of Protestant worship is still too much with us to allow that (although some UU congregations or groups probably do something close to that as their 'worship').
We have a liturgical tradition, and since most of us have omitted prayers to God, Bible readings, confession of sin, and Communion from that liturgy, we seek to put something worthy and inspiring in their place.
What I was wondering was whether or not we were mostly putting Buddhist teachings and readings and quasi-spiritual practices (like 30- second 'meditation') where Christian instruction and ritual used to be. I continue to wonder this, and am curious as to whether our congregants are getting a lot more Buddhism than classical Humanism in their worship services and ministry of spiritual formation.
It would be fascinating if all UU ministers and active laymen and women reading this would offer a brief comment reporting how much Buddhist teaching and spiritual guidance they are using in worship and Adult RE offerings. I would also be interested in knowing how the prevalence of Buddhism (albeit watered-down Buddhism Lite, as Jaume warns we are probably propagating) compares to the prevalence of specifically Humanist sources (don't ask me how to define "Humanist" sources. I don't think I want to tackle that. Maybe one of you would like to try). "
Again, my intention is not to determine whether or not Unitarian Universalists really understand Buddhism (or even one specific branch of Buddhism), but to gather more information about our current sources for spiritual instruction and faith formation. I suspect that the majority of UUs are ingesting popular American Buddhism at a far higher rate than they are any other specific religious tradition, and that ministers are using Buddhist readings and sources (or even quasi-Buddhist readings) on a very regular basis in worship.
If I haven't made it clear that I don't think this is a bad thing, I hope it's clear now. The only bad thing about this would be if we remained largely unconscious of it, uncritically engaged in Buddhism (if that's the tradition we're borrowing from most liberally nowadays), and unwilling to acknowledge that many our members who identify as Humanist are turning more frequently to Buddhist sources for their spiritual formation than specifically humanistic ones. If this is the trend, we should know it, talk about it, understand it, be responsible about it, and use it for the common good.