In her book “EXiting the JW Cult”, Bonnie Zieman mentiones that a lot of XJW enjoy eastern philosophy and Buddhism. At the time I read her book vehemently opposed to all religion including Buddhism. I was very hurt and not willing to explore anything even remotely religious. But in time that changed…
JW’s teach us to be close-minded. You’re are not allowed to explore ideas in your mind. You are not allowed to explore by reading. In the JW world thinking, reading, or viewing material makes you guilty of whatever the content of the material is.
Lets take a jump back in time for a sec. In 2005 I saw this quote on a poster at Quinsigamond Community college. Aristotle was credited with saying it and goes like this, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” This is the opposite of the JW mindset. I was still a JW at the time I read this but the idea always stayed with me. I really liked the idea. It was something I secretly stove for.
Back to 2015/16. Remembering that quote from years ago I decided to start exploring the world with curiosity and openness. I could learn about something out curiosity and it did not mean that I approved of it. So I became curious about Buddhism and meditation.
JW’s teach that meditation is about emptying your mind. They teach that making your mind empty with meditation opens you up to demonic attack. An empty mind makes room for demons to live in it, that’s literally what I was taught. I was also taught that Buddha was a demonic god. But I was curious. I was curious about the mediation. I was curious about all the statues, beads, and saffron-robed monks.
My curiosity led me to find a book called Secular Buddhism by Noah Rasheta. I highly recommend this book if your curious and would like to learn more about Buddhism in a non-religious way. I read the book and I started exploring more. As I explored I discovered that Rasheta was offering a 6-month certification course in secular Buddhism.
I applied and was accepted to his course. I was still very leery and cautious about all of this. We met weekly and discussed a handful of books relating to secular Buddhism. I learned a lot. At the end, I received a beautiful certificate.
Ironically Buddhism is all about (among other things) non-judgmentality, non-attachment, openess, curiosity which is very similar to the “entertain a thought without accepting it.” quote that led me to it. I highly recommend XJWs explore some of these concepts with openness.
You don’t have to become a Buddhist. You don’t even have to believe that the buddha, or Siddhartha Gautama as he is called, was a real person. To me regardless of whether he was real or not, I view the Buddha a symbol of a variety of ideas relating to eastern philosophy.
I suggest you take a look into some of these ideas and see if you find them useful. I will be writing about some of them here.