Humans identify with certain religious beliefs out of a deep need for purpose and connection. I've had contact with Buddhists for a couple years and I could see that most of them got relief form delivering themselves to a group of people sharing the same set of beliefs and practices. And also by giving their hearts a honorable path to walk upon throughout their lives brought them purpose, guidance, safety and peace.
Buddhism is still a religion or set of beliefs yes but out of all those that our species as come up with, it's one that I can respect.
I believe that it would be beneficial to understand that ending with religion, criticising it, pointing it's flaws and so on won't solve the problem. Because those deep needs are still there no matter how much we fight religion.
Instead we could shift our focus and try to better understand those deep needs that drive human beings in identifying themselves with religion, cults or even political groups... This way we could present better alternatives to religion.
I for one feel in myself a very deep need in believing, pay respect and gratitude to some kind of higher power: the Cosmos itself feels to me like a very good alternative. I don't really know what the Cosmos is. No one really does. It's a mystery. But you can see it, taste it, feel it. It's all around us and within us.
Mindfullness is actually a very good tool in that it provides us a way to connect to this mystery and achieve some balance within ourselves.
Humans benefit a great deal physically and emotionally when aligned with nature: be it food, sounds, smells, the presence of natural elements, a natural steady rhythm in life.
We're going the wrong way I believe: less trees, less clean water, more GMOs, more cell phones, more machines, more speed, more information, more pressure to be perfect, efficient and "happy", more entertainment to dull our pain. We're getting further away from our potential to be truly happy: love, connection, integrity, space, respect for nature and each other, honor, purpose.
Science without that mysterious human element that some call Love and Wisdom gives rise to heartless machine-like minds capable of causing a lot of pain and disharmony in this world. GMOs are just a small example.
Practising BJJ helps me to develop a number of qualities which out of the mat are of great importance.
Human beings are part of an ecosystem of organisms whose main impulse is to survive. Survival to what? To entropy, violence, cold, the void.
We are surrounded by an infinity of possibilities that can lead us to failure of survival. There are obstacles surrounding us in every direction. This is true for all the species inhabiting our planet.
Humanity is the most successful species on this planet. Part of the reason why is because our ancestors did not shy away from difficulties. Rather those obstacles were faced and overcome with much pain and sacrifice.
"In man's life his time is a mere instant, his existence a flux, his perception fogged, his whole bodily composition rotting, his mind a whirligig, his fortune unpredictable, his fame unclear. To put it shortly: all things of the body stream away like a river, all things of the mind are dreams and delusion; life is warfare, and a visit in a strange land; the only lasting fame is oblivion.Marcus Aurelius - Meditations, book two, 17
What then can escort us on our way? One thing, and one thing only: philosophy. This consists in keeping the divinity within us inviolate and free from harm, master of pleasure and pain, doing nothing without aim, truth, or integrity, and independent of others' action or failure to act. Further, accepting all that happens and is allotted to it as coming from that other source which is its own origin: and at all times awaiting death with the glad confidence that it is nothing more than the dissolution of the elements of which every living creature is composed. Now if there is nothing fearful for the elements themselves in their constant changing of each into another, why should one look anxiously in prospect at the change and dissolution of them all? This is in accordance with nature: and nothing harmful is in accordance with nature."