Please talk a little about the threshold between meditation as mind-training practice and meditation as religious practice. At what point, if any, does it become desirable or necessary to step beyond the not-exclusively religious benefits of focus, concentration and mindfulness and into commitment to religion?
I do realize that this question arises from my own deep skepticism about religion. No need, here, to return to that old whine about having it thrust down my throat as a child. That's the emotional part. But I also have an intellectual predisposition toward disbelief. My mind will simply not reach into some imagined realm of continued existence beyond this life. And sadly, perhaps, the concept of an almighty and all-loving God who takes an interest in human affairs seems almost laughable to me in view of the realities of life here on the planet Earth and in the context of so unimaginably vast and unknowable a universe.
And while Buddhism seems to me admirable in not requiring faith in "God," in emphasizing the role of individual responsibility for one's life, and in teaching laudable human values, it leaves me asking myself why it would need to be practiced as a religion.
Was there a threshold of this kind, I want to ask Than Geoff, that you personally had to cross? And, if you did, did it take the form of some "Road to Damascus" moment? Or how did it happen for you?
I wonder if my curiosity derives from looking for such a moment for myself? And if it's the intellect that stands in the way of my ever finding it?