I have only practiced Mindful Living for about 2 years, yet I have seen enormous benefit. Mindful Living is my combination of Christian morality and the how-to nature of Buddhism. While I consider myself a Christian, I recognize that the Bible often lacks practical applications of the lessons it teaches. It is more of a rule book than a handbook. Buddhism, on the other hand, teaches you how to think so you automatically follow the same moral rules Christianity (and Islam and Judaism for that matter) have. Buddhism is a life philosophy not a religion.
While Jesus tells you to love your neighbor as yourself, Buddhism tells you why and how to do so. Jesus speaks about the sinful nature of base thinking: greed, lust, etc. Buddhism tells you how to change those thoughts step by step. I found the lessons of the Buddha and Jesus surprisingly complimentary. There are some Christian traditions where Jesus traveled to Buddhist lands before he began his ministry to learn how to teach his lessons. I can see why that tradition has been popular over the centuries.
Like Christianity, Buddhism does have silly things. Its cosmology is one of them, for example. However, all religions and philosophies can offer insights if you sift through them.
I find myself extremely peaceful. I discarded my fundamentalist Christian beliefs in favor of Jesus’s real teachings and the practical philosophy of the Buddha. I no longer look upon people with pity as I used to do. They are not automatically destined for hell because they follow Satan’s delusions (ie, any Christian tradition different from mine). I don’t get angry with people for their thoughtless behavior. I simply realize they may have a concern on their minds that is making them rude, thoughtless, or belligerent. I realize they are just suffering.
I feel free. I am not enslaved to an idea of God that requires me to always attend church no matter the circumstances and cost to others. I am not enslaved by the idea of the sinful nature of my humanity and the guilt it causes. I accept the fact that I make mistakes and sin. Without them, I could never grow as a person. They don’t weigh on my mind as they used to do. They don’t grind away my self-worth. I am simply human.
Christianity got in the way of Christianity. Before, I was too wrapped up in self guilt, judgmental thinking, and an inflated sense of faith. Once I began realizing the nature of suffering and reality, I discarded all of these ideas. Once the judgments fell away, once my faith shifted, I found love underneath all the debris. I can enjoy the time I spend with friends more deeply. I can connect with people I meet on a deep level in ways I couldn’t before. I can just love people for who they are in the present moment. I don’t seek to help them out of a desire for heaven. I don’t seek relationships for my own benefit. I help and love people just to help and love people.
I gained appreciation. Through the cultivation of mindfulness as Buddhism teaches, and Jesus points toward, I appreciate everything for how it is at the moment. I don’t feel hurried or bored. I don’t feel agitated. I simply notice the small things around me and appreciate them. The people standing around me in a checkout line are not an obstacle. They are just people. The clouds and storms are more beautiful. When I say grace I thank the animal that died and anyone who may have suffered for what I have on the plate. I thank God for the opportunity to appreciate the meal.
Seeing the reality of co-dependence has brought me peace that fundamental Christianity failed to provide. Accepting things for what they are in the present and realizing the causes and effects, has allowed me to become a truer, more loving Christian than I was when I attended church. While many may believe I have watered down the faith, fallen victim to Satan’s manipulations, or am simply deluded, my biblical studies formed the basis for my beliefs. The archeological and scholarly evidence forms the backbone of my faith. Buddhist philosophy form the mind and the teachings of Jesus form the heart of my beliefs. Any view of God that is exclusive, divisive, petty, and persnickety raises serious doubts in me to its veracity. While all we have are ideas of God, to force an idea upon someone who causes mental dissonance, suffering, and ignorance is hardly a work of love.
God doesn’t speak to me as some religious folk like to claim. I simply seek to use my God-given reason to find the truth that my soul seeks. Buddhist philosophy and discarding fundamentalist Christianity has allowed me to find peace and find love for my neighbor. What works for me, may not work for you. But, we all have the same path. We all suffer and seek relief. We all love. Those three things unite all of us on our journeys, and allow us to help each other on the road.