Sangha Voices Sumer 2017

There’s Plenty of Room in Buddhism for Both of Us

by Daniel Scharpenburg

I don’t really like words like secular or skeptic. But to be honest, I don’t believe in spirits, magic, gods, demons, reincarnation, or psychic powers. I just don’t. I’m not closed-minded, and I don’t look down on people who believe in those things — though I’m always surprised so many do. Above all, I want people who see things the way I do to know that they aren’t alone.

The great thing about Buddhism is that it doesn’t require us to believe in things that we don’t think are real. Things that aren’t real aren’t the point of Buddhism. I don’t believe in magic, and I don’t have to pretend that I do (which is a thing I wonder if some people are doing). That kind of belief is not a requirement.

I think the 14th Dalai Lama is a very wise teacher. I saw him in 2011 and I’m glad I did. But I don’t believe that he was the 13th Dalai Lama in his previous life, or that he’s an emanation of a Bodhisattva, and that he will once again be reincarnated. If I were a Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist, I probably would — and if you are and do, that’s great. There’s plenty of room in Buddhism for both of us.

What I do believe is that if we’re more awake, we will suffer less. And I believe the way to cultivate wakefulness is to train ourselves in concentration, ethics, and awareness.

You can read Daniel’s full article on Lion’s Roar website: