I happen to believe that “God” is very real. I also believe that this God wants us to be happy and good to one another. Much beyond that, and it gets murky. I have had personal experiences with Spirit in my life that have convinced me of the reality of a “Higher Power” in the universe. I cannot tell you that you must believe, or even what to believe, you are responsible for your own thoughts on this.
I have come to believe that, though the scholars may be right, and the stories of a Christ may be twisted and suborned, there are kernels of truth in the gospels. Not of a human that was a God, but, rather, a human teacher that was enlightened and taught a better way for us to live. Yes, I am aware that he is quoted to have said some things that are just simply not supportable by a human. I believe those things were added into the story by those who wrote the legends many years after this rabbi lived.
In fact, it is because of all the controversy that I am going to share with you my base for the beliefset I hold. I must admit that when I first became aware that there were no notes and documents from the time in which the rabbi lived, my head was spinning. Had I put my faith in a myth? Well, possibly. So I began to search out from other faiths, what they believed, and why they believed them. One of my favorite books was Huston Smith’s work on the religions of the world. I was most impressed that Dr. Smith had done the field research that I would want to do if I had had the opportunity.
What came through to me so clearly in that research, and more of my own in reading and talking to those who practiced other faiths, was that Buddhism, stripped down to it’s core teachings was nearly identical in principle, and many of the Buddha‘s teachings were a rephrasing of the rabbi’s, or the rabbi’s teachings were a rephrasing of the Buddha’s teachings. Either way, this gave me a basis on which to build my own practice. I had also found a woman who would teach me regarding the indigenous beliefs of the First People, so I must admit this is also part of my beliefset. In fact, my current practice has little to do with ceremony from any of the three basic foundation sets, and much to do with how I see things, and the principles I try to practice in daily life.
There are some lovely side issues when Buddhism is so similar to the Christian path. One is that I see Y’shua as another Buddha, an enlightened human, not a God. Another is that, with Buddhism, there is no need to worry whether there is a “Father” God at all, Buddhism is about relieving humanity from suffering, not about worshipping a God. Ergo, you can be an atheist and practice Buddhism quite easily. The key, for me, has more to do with how you treat your fellow human beings, in following Buddha’s path, you are in obedience to the one I call the “Ancient of Days”. There is another gem here that should not be over-looked. With Buddhism, you are instructed right at the start that this has to do with your own journey, not about telling others how to live. You don’t have to worry about “John”, or “Suzi”, or anybody else along the way, just worry about yourself. What a wonderful release from being responsible for how others live. It isn’t yours to worry about.
Now, that last part, that’s been a point of contemplation for me. Y’shua taught us not to judge others, he also told us that we shouldn’t worry about the splinter in our brother’s eye when we had a log in our own. That should pretty much tell us to mind our own p’s and q’s, but, rather than telling us not to worry about others so much, Gautama Buddha went on to teach us how to travel the path toward the light, i.e. Wisdom, our own ethical conduct, where to concentrate our efforts. Though you can see the parallels in their teachings in the third link I gave you, the focus of their teachings was a bit different. Y’shua’s was almost all about conduct, Gautama was about the inner journey. Both were leading us toward spiritual growth, Buddha was teaching us how to be another Buddha. Though I believe it was Y’shua’s intent to also teach us to be like him, that has been made to look almost impossible by those who preach and teach in Christian churches, teaching us to love the messenger and forget his message. I don’t personally believe we can afford to do that. We must learn to follow the message.