Hey All - I don't know if this is bad form or not, but I just wanted to share a recent blog post of mine, "Buddhism Demystified," for my unique, admittedly amatuer take on a naturalistic outlook on Buddhism.
Thanks John - good post! I look forward to reading all of your blog - I just added it to my favorites.
My wife is a Buddhist, and I have pretty much reconciled my beliefs to hers by looking at Buddhism much as you have. She tends to take the things they talk about in her group a bit more spiritually, but I always translate them into a natural view like yours.
I love the basic concepts of Buddhism. It really helps me keep things in perspective. Be compassionate - can't argue with that! Be aware of your awareness, and that the thoughts that pop up in your head are not the real you; you are the consciousness behind the thoughts - can't argue with that either. Just keeping this awareness in the back of my mind all the time makes life easier. It evens things out - less stress - more relaxed - happier.
My wife belongs to a group that follows and supports Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. I loved reading his book "The Joy of Living" and attending one of his talks when he visited Portland. To hear him talk I almost think he might be more of a "naturalist Buddhist" himself. Even if he's not, it would be a shame to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" -- at least 90% of what he says would still be true and very meaningful and useful to any naturalist/atheist person.
The post on your blog is what I've been saying for many months now. It is great to see this view is not something only I have seen. I thought that I was all alone for a while in the way that I viewed these things. Thank you for taking the time to write that down for us to read.
I've glanced at Buddhism from time to time but always felt overwhelmed with much of the terminology and the majority of the materials I have seen feel more religious than what I guess you would call natural Buddhism. (I have a strong distaste and distrust of religious doctrines) So whenever I begin looking into Buddhism it feels like I'm walking into a bog. Any suggestions in reading materials. I don't know if I'd ever call myself a Buddhist but there has been a few bits that I have managed to find that were beneficial. I certainly would like to look into it a bit more.