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The Buddha

You may have heard the old joke that the most important quality in life is sincerity, and once you learn to fake that, you’ve got it made.

Sincerity is a hard thing to evaluate. It is just polite to accept people’s claims about their own identities at face value, until and unless you see reason to doubt them.

We see a lot of people state that anyone who claims to be a Christian and votes for Trump is not a good Christian. The problem in the United States is that we have proliferated subsets of Christianity to the point that it is impossible to assert reliably what is and is not “good Christian” belief or practice. As a historical question, no matter the issue in the United States, one can find people on either side who loudly claimed to take the distinctively Christian position. The first white people to call for the immediate abolition of slavery were good Quakers, but most of their good Christian fellow citizens thought that idea was literally insane. Most slave owners were also good Christians. So being a “good Christian” was entirely ambiguous with respect to slavery. Similarly, as African Americans protested racial segregation, some Christians vocally supported them, while plenty of other Christians insisted that the Christian god wanted racial segregation.

Non conformity is usually some indicator of sincerity. The safe road is always to conform. Refusal to do so puts one at some risk of condemnation, or even formal penalties, in other countries. Our Constitution effectively prohibits penalties for non conformity in beliefs and speech, at least.

Buddhists usually do not talk much about sincerity. Perhaps we just take it for granted. Why would anyone identify publicly as a Buddhist unless they really meant it? Since most non Buddhists know little or nothing about Buddhists belief and practice, it can be difficult for them to discern what is and is not authentic Buddhism, but there is not much to gain from fake Buddhism, so it does not appear much.

The most obvious way to be Buddhist is to meditate, which people not infrequently do in public places, and which requires some effort and has discernible effects.

So keep meditating sincerely.

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Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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