On isms and belief systems

Joeri Poesen //

I had never given religion much thought until I spent a few years living in a predominantly Muslim country and realised how much of one's belief system permeates daily life and drives the choices we make and actions we take.

Not having been raised religiously at all, I started wondering what I actually believe in. What are the elements that make up my moral compass? Which values do I live by, where do my demons come from, how do I shake off bad days/weeks/months and refocus?

I figured out pretty quickly that abrahamic religions don't do it for me; neither does any system that requires unquestioning belief in supreme beings, supernatural phenomena or preordained laws. I don't feel ethics and personal growth should be mandatorily intertwined with ceremony, monastic hierarchies and guru devotion.

I admit to always having been attracted to Eastern philosophy and religion, so it's not altogether surprising that after a journey along Hinduism, Confusionism and Taoism, I arrived at Buddhism, which uniquely resonated with me.

Hello Buddhist World

Whether Buddhism is a religion or a philosophy is a discussion people smarter than myself probably get a kick out of.

To me, Buddhism represents a framework that focuses my thoughts and guides my actions. It's both a set of moral guidelines and a no-bullshit way of critically thinking about myself and the interactions I have with others.

I don't pretend to be a scholar, nor an expert on Buddhism. The only intention I have is to capture and explain how I experience Buddhism and which place it takes in modern life, as I perceive it.

I want to strip down Buddhism to its bare essentials, and this series of articles will be meant as much for myself as for anyone else who's interested in who this Buddha fellow was and what the fuss is all about.

Coming up: Minimum Viable Buddhism. Stay tuned.