See the hidden heart in the sky? They way you view things makes all the difference. Source.
I have some former friends who I used to consider "fake Buddhists". They throw around "God bless you", "have a nice day", and "take care" when they don't mean it. They can't stop talking about how religious and spiritual they are, yet they are glass-half-empty kind of people, always jumping to negative conclusions. They hurt others badly and don't ever give you the benefit of the doubt. They relish cruel practices like meat-eating.
So I wanted to come on here and rant about all of the fake Buddhists out there, but then I took a look at myself. Well... what an eye-opening dharma lesson!
Let's look at a few issues:
What does it take to be Buddhist?
According to Buddhist beliefs, you must take refuge in the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha. There is no formal process, although some sanghas do have a ritual of some type. In order to be a Buddhist, all you really have to do is in your mind form an intention to rely on what Buddha represents, what he taught, and rely on the like-minded spiritual community. When you really thing about it, anyone can do that, no matter how far from enlightenment. There are no special skills you must have or hoops you must jump through. Putting Buddha's teachings into practice is very difficult, even for so-called "real Buddhists".
Is there even such a thing as fakes or frauds?
Well, yes, under our definition of the way we think things are. It is only when we truly appreciate the impermanence of many aspects of life that we can understand that the way we define things is based on our delusions. I am guilty of this one. One of my former friends suddenly turned against me and many other friends without warning. We are all left devastated but only because we had the unrealistic expectation that the friendship would last forever. We falsely believed that the friendship was permanent.
But does a failure to follow Buddhist principles make a person a fake Buddhist or not a Buddhist? No. We are all imperfect. All we can do is try to live up to the Buddhist ideal. If we fail, then we must try again. By speaking out against others who are in the same boat that we're in, we're failing to engage in right speech. What we're saying is hurtful and not productive. I never said it, but many times I though of the above friend as a "fake Buddhist". I'm now realizing the error of my ways.
How have I measured up as a Buddhist?
Terribly. I am getting better, but so far I have failed dreadfully to live up to the principles in which I believe. I find it especially hard when dealing with my family and those closest to me. Especially when they are nice to me, I see how I am failing. I have a real anger problem and feel very depressed when I am disappointed by impermanence. All I can do is keep trying.
I think it's important for anyone, of any religion or not religious, who believes in Buddhist beliefs or not, to practice love an compassion and to examine themselves. Taking a look at yourself or asking others for honest opinions goes a long way. Self-cherishing is strong, but our love for others can be stronger. I love realizing your own flaws. It's a powerful process.
Posted as part of Blue Monday and Much Love Monday.