The idea of apologetics as a mode of discussing one’s religious leanings is one of the more tedious topics that I can think of. There is a deep irony in beginning my blog in such a mode, and I hope you’ll bear with me as I explain, as accurately as possible, this venture that I’m embarking on… that hasn’t happened yet, and can only be authentic within a certain fluidity.
It’s difficult to pin down a voice for these discussions; and yet the act of doing so is an important aspect of establishing a rapport with you as a reader. If I stand well back from you, distancing my voice from the ‘facts’ I lay before you, it might help you to feel as if I am being objective and that my ‘facts’ (as long as they are couched in the appropriate references and so on) are not just about ‘a buddhism’ that I bumble through the living of, but of some Buddhism Proper. If the latter even exists, I’m unqualified to describe it authoritatively.
However, at the other end of the spectrum, I don’t actually wish to describe to you all of what it feels like to live as me, and I don’t want to describe this blog as a road to enlightenment as such. I am not sure where my life will end up, and my most valuable asset as a Buddhist is those fleeting moments when I am able to grasp that each moment is, in itself, all I will ever really have. I am besotted with my fragile liberation from chasing ideas of what is to come.
My initial training in philosophical discourse and the histories of thought was at a somewhat (and subjectively) moderate Christian theological college as I worked towards the goal of becoming a Christian pastor. Huge swathes of what I wrote in order to gain my degree was geared towards skilling up as a Christian apologist in order to equip me to bring the unwashed masses into line with the ‘Truth’ I was being educated in. I learnt a system of thought and, whilst I laughed with the other theology students about the books of responses brought into my house by visiting Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was in many ways being educated to think and function in a similar (albeit more creative and fluid) way. I’m not interested in setting the blog up as some kind of Christianity vs. Buddhism thingy though, either. Yuck. Just yuck.
What I do hope that I will be able to write is something truthful, that functions as apologetics only insofar as an attempt to bridge the diverse gaps between my readers and my own mind, in order to try to be useful to you. I want you to understand some of the ways in which seeking out Buddhist thought and teachings helps me to be happier, and more compassionate, and less burdened by my personal history and current headspace at any given time. I am not trying to change you in the sense of thinking that I am an expert and you are a learner and you should read what I have to say so that I can fix you. Sometimes, though, I see beauty and I want to write it down in case it brings something to someone else, too.
Over the years (I won’t pretend there are more than a few; I’m 33 years old as I write this) I have found increasing relief from my sufferings as I have accidentally stumbled upon Buddhist teachings and further stumbled as I seek to live them out practically. Some of these practices are interpersonal, some reflective, some theoretical and some purely and unfathomably experiential. As I learn more it helps me to write more, and as I write and talk about what I am thinking about, sometimes I am useful.
So, as I write this blog, I hope you will accept this humblest and most respectful apology, and I offer it to you out of a wish to be useful to you: nothing further than that.