In our society, people are often categorized and defined by labels, and it is easy to fall into the trap of identifying ourselves by what we don’t believe in or don’t do. Negative labels such as “non-smoker,” “non-drinker,” or “non-religious” are commonly used to define ourselves, but these labels can be quite limiting.
Consider the term “non-Buddhist.” What does this label tell us about a person? It simply tells us that they don’t identify as a Buddhist. It doesn’t reveal their values, their beliefs, or their passions. It’s a label of exclusion, not inclusion.
The same is true for many other negative labels. For example, the term “atheist” is often used as a catch-all term for anyone who doesn’t believe in a god. Individuals who identify as atheists have various beliefs and philosophies and form a spectrum as broad as the general public. To label someone simply as an atheist is to overlook the nuances of their identity.
This is where the concept of “new atheism” comes into play. Often associated with the works of authors like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, new atheism is characterized by a more outspoken and aggressive approach to religion. However, the term “new atheism” is equally problematic as it doesn’t accurately reflect the diversity of thought among those who don’t subscribe to religious beliefs.
Just as “new atheism” is an oversimplification, so too is the term “new non-Buddhism.” It’s an attempt to create a parallel label for those who don’t identify as Buddhists, but it fails to capture the essence of what it means to be non-Buddhist.
The problem with these labels is that they focus on what people are not rather than who they are. They define people by their lack of belief or affiliation rather than their values, passions, and experiences.
True identity is about embracing who you are, not who you’re not. It’s about identifying with your beliefs, values, and passions. It’s about celebrating the things that make you unique and special.
Instead of labeling yourself as a non-Buddhist, an atheist, or a new atheist, focus on defining yourself by what you are. Are you a humanist? A secularist? A freethinker? Are you passionate about science, art, music, or literature? Embrace these…