Originally posted by Wheely
I enjoy your posts Sir, or maybe Madam...
I would ask you the same question but feel, to some, extent, it is answered in the above post. The feeling I get from this lady and from your posts is that it wouldn't really matter if nobody was a Buddhist. It would still be there.
A male here, and in this case, with a beard and Buddha-like bald head...
Regarding it "mattering" whether one is Buddhist or not, traditionally Buddhism does not have a missionary component or aggressive outreach program, so to speak. But ironically the Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1959 has served to spread Buddhism (the Tibetan form of it, at least) around the world, owing to the exodus of great Tibetan *lamas* (teachers).
A few more comments on "enlightenment" in the Buddhist context...
1. The basic idea is that our inner nature is already enlightened. We can't see that, however, because of the tendency of the mind to obscure our naturally awake consciousness. The mind obscures it via deluded thinking.
2. Deluded thinking is arising from ignorance of who we really are. This ignorance is programmed into us by many external forces, found within family, society, etc.
3. This ignorance is identification in all its forms. To identify in this context means to believe that we are something that we ultimately are not. For example, to believe that we are nothing but a body. Or nothing but a racial type, or a nationality, or a political persuasion, or our vocation, etc.
4. Identification is a kind of madness that infects people. People will easily kill each other over identifications. These identifications can be racial ("I'm white, you're black, he's yellow," etc.), or sexist, or political, or religious, etc. It takes very little evidence to see how identification lies behind most forms of human craziness stemming from divisiveness and the need to oppose others because of their different identifications.
5. If we are tired of identifications and the generally shallow life they engender, there is the possibility of seeing beyond them. To see beyond them it's necessary to grasp the deepest and most problematic identification of them all -- the belief that we are the mind, and nothing more.
6. We believe we are the mind when we identify with thinking. To identify with thinking means to believe that "I am my thoughts".
7. Since thoughts are changing all the time, arising and subsiding in consciousness, we can see a certain craziness in identifying with thinking. And since the ego, the central basis of who we think we are, is nothing but a collection of thoughts, we can easily see how identifying with thinking results in identifying with the ego, or separate self.
8. Buddha taught that the separate self or ego is much like a phantom, or dream -- something we come to staunchly defend and fortify, and "believe in". But by reinforcing the ego or separate self we create the conditions for future suffering because our deeper nature is not contained or confined by the arbitrary boundaries of the ego. We are, in a sense, always pretending to be something that we are not. This basic inauthenticity often translates into a lack of truthfulness in relationships with others (even if we mean well). But this is understandable, in a sense. How can we be truthful in all our relationships if we do not know who we are?
9. To begin to know who we are, at deeper levels, it is first necessary to observe the mind. We observe the mind by practicing objectively witnessing thoughts as they arise in consciousness.
An experiment -- observe the mind. See if you can watch a thought arise in your awareness.
How does the thought arise? By what mechanism is this thought being made to appear? Is there anyone really in the "background" deciding "okay, now I'm going to have this thought"?
And if so, can you find that person?