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The Motivation Behind Sasana: A Refuge for the Skeptical Buddhist

Dan Bammes

My name is Dan Bammes.* On June 21, 1996, I finally accepted the fact that I am a Buddhist believer and have been for many years. I first encountered Buddhism as a Mormon missionary in South Korea, and came away converted. Twenty years later, after losing my job and my marriage, I realized there was no pretense left for me to cling to, so I took that step I had avoided for so long. I took refuge in the Buddha, the example of enlightened living. I took refuge in the Dharma, the truths he taught. I took refuge in the Sangha, the community of Buddhists in all their variety who have preserved the Dharma through the centuries.

Unfortunately, the various traditions of Buddhism are so cluttered with the same kinds of nonsense that fill the world’s other religions that I have hesitated to go to any of them for instruction. Rather, I have chosen to go to them all and find the teachings that match my own fundamental orientation. I believe that Buddhism requires no belief in the supernatural. It requires no belief in reincarnation. It requires nothing beyond the acceptance of the truths that Sakyamuni Buddha taught during his lifetime: That all life knows suffering; that our clinging and ignorance are the cause of that suffering and that the end of suffering is possible for those who follow the Eightfold Path.

I do not believe that any one person is the reincarnation of anyone else. I do not believe I can be reborn in hell or in heaven. I accept the vast mythology associated with Buddhism as just that — mythology intended to teach wisdom. Yet I believe deeply that The Enlightened One described the human condition perfectly and that there is benefit in his example.

There are many others who feel the same way. We’ve joined together to create a sasana, a group of lay Buddhists who practice and teach each other. In the past, we have used the term sangha in the generic sense to mean the Buddhist community at large, but we are not a sangha in the classical sense, meaning a group of those who have left their homes behind to live the holy life and practice and teach the Dharma. Our group is made up of people who look to the truths taught and practiced by other Buddhists through the centuries, but who reject the nonsense that has attached itself to Buddhism through the years like barnacles to an ancient ship.

We do not seek to reform Buddhism, nor would we presume such a thing. We are open to wisdom from every source and every tradition. We’re not asking for your money, your devotion, your soul or even very much of your time. It’s as easy to quit as it is to join. If you would care to join the mailing list, it’s as easy as clicking on this link.

* It’s pronounced BAHM-us

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