"How can Yo be the center of Yoism and be 'irrelevant'?"
"How are Yoism and Buddhism alike?"
"The Way" of Yo
In most religions, there are degrees of "religiosity," ranging from fundamentalist "fanatics" to those who are de facto atheists. For those who tend toward the atheistic end of the range, their religious affiliation may remain vital because of their commitment to the way their religion expresses their values, to their community that is organized around their religion, or to their customs and the sense of belonging/purpose/identity they provide. Likewise, in Yoism, we find mystics, skeptics, Humists, and ennuists (pronounced on’-wists).
Types of Yoans
Rather, Yoan mystics have had experiences in which the existence of Yo is incontrovertible; Yo is felt/known to be as real as anything that can be directly experienced. Some mystic Yoans have experienced a "union with Yo" that seems to match very closely what mystics in the traditional religions describe when they speak about "union with God." And, like any categorizing system, Yoans in the mystic tradition are not all the same; some Yoans do not neatly fit into one category or the other.
Mystic Yoans range from those who have had such full-blown religious experiences to those who describe a less dramatic, spiritual sense of union with nature, a sense of the presence of the divine in the world.
Skeptics are those who have doubts as to whether there is anything beyond the world we experience, but they remain open to the possibility. And skeptics too range from those who are actively seeking a more direct mystical sense of Yo to those who would more properly be called Humists.
Humists are those who adopt the more thoroughgoing skepticism of David Hume. Hume was not an atheist. He merely argued that there was no evidence for anything beyond the natural world, the world of direct experience. Since words must refer to something that another person (a listener) can experience if they are to have meaning, and since religious phenomena are private experiences that cannot be replicated for others like David Hume to experience, for Humists, religious words do not refer to anything and therefore don’t mean anything. For Humists, it is meaningless to "babble," i.e., to speak words without meaning and so they don’t. Humists range from those who have interest in the religious experiences of others to those who are merely amused by the discussion of anything that is beyond the realm of direct experience. Humists differ from ennuists in that they find discussion about Yo to hold interest, though they usually take a position of a skeptical challenger.
They are at peace with their religious atheism and do not engage others as skeptical challengers. Tolerant ennuists consider religious notions to be of no significance, emotional crutches that others seem to need, or annoying chatter and a waste of time and energy. On the less tolerant end of the spectrum, we find ennuists who are ardent atheists and who may even wish we could eradicate religion!
Yoan ennuists, however, understand that Yoism is not a religion like the religions they oppose. There is no magical thinking in Yoism. There is no denigration of the human divinity of non-members. And there is a thoroughgoing commitment in Yoism to living in the Real world and acting on information that we can experience directly. In addition to their commitment to the community and its values, Yoan ennuists embrace the Five Pillars of Yoism, the Ten Sacred Principles, and the evolution of those parts of The Book of Yo that are dedicated to the elaboration and realization of Yoism’s Pillars and Principles.
The 5-10-Open-Heaven "core" of Yoism
Most Yoans are mystics (the largest group) and skeptics, though there are many Yoan ennuists and a smaller number of Humists. One of the challenges Yoism faces is to see if such a diverse religious community, united in its overarching goals and ideals, can hold together and become energized in the pursuit of those goals. Though Yoism has a mystical religious source, Yoans—whether they are reverent mystics or completely atheistic ennuists—are all united in their commitment to the Five Pillars, the Ten Principles, the Open Source Truth Process, and the importance of building Heaven right here, in the Real world of our shared experience. It is this 5-10-Open-Heaven "core" that ultimately defines Yoism. This Yoan core has some significant parallels to Buddhism, a religion in which there is no deity, no "God."
Yoism, Buddhism, and The Buddha's skeptical empiricism
Do not believe in anything (simply) because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditional ideas (simply) because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken or rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything (simply) because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that a thing agrees with reason and is conductive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live by it. (The Buddha, The Kalama Sutta)
Or as Saint John put it:
Indeed, this similarity is no accident as some of Yoism was derived from the Buddhist tradition (as well as from other established religions; Yoism intentionally aims to incorporate the best aspects of existing religious ideologies). Unlike the Judeo-Christian-Islamic (JCI) tradition—in which there is a personal God with similarities to humans—in the Buddhist religion, there is no deity, no god.
With this important difference (the belief in Yo), the mystic tradition in Yoism is close to the Buddhist tradition of seeking nirvana. And, even in this difference, there may be more in common than initially meets the eye. Some Yoans consider the Buddhist goal of nirvana to be essentially identical to mystical traditions in the JCI religions. JCI mystics often describe their state of union with God in terms that are indistinguishable from many Buddhist descriptions of the Buddha-state. If one were to substitute Spinozan/Einsteinian pantheism (in which God is equivalent to the universe, creating and/or manifesting as/being Itself) for Buddhist a-theism, one would come very close to Yoism, especially if one focuses on the tradition of the Bodhisattva.
Yoism, Buddhism, and the Bodhisattva's Choice
There is a striking similarity, specifically between the Devotion to Embodiment that one finds in Yoism—i.e., the Yoan commitments to the Five Pillars, to the Ten Sacred Principles, and to the creation of Heaven on Earth—and the tradition of the Bodhisattva found in Buddhism. In Buddhism, if and when one attains the enlightened state, one has a choice to make. In the state of freedom from desire, one can simply live life in nirvana and, according to Buddhist tradition, break free from the never ending cycle of reincarnation.
Alternatively, an Enlightened One can choose the path taken by The Buddha. One can maintain knowledge of the enlightened state, yet choose to remain in the common world of human experience and concerns. That is, one can become a Bodhisattva, one whose compassion for others leads yo to put the attainment of nirvana aside in order to work with those still caught up in suffering. In this choice, nirvana becomes "a nice place to visit, though [given my concern for those I love] I wouldn't want to live there."
Three men were walking through the desert. They were lost and about to die from thirst and hunger. They come to a very high wall and the first one climbs up, shouts for joy and jumps over the wall never to return. The next man climbs up the wall and he too, exclaims in ecstasy, jumps over the wall and never comes back. Now the third man climbs up the wall. He gets to the top and sees a sort of Garden of Eden place with water and lots of fruit trees. He smiles, turns, goes back down the wall, returning to the desert to help others find their way to this paradise. He chooses to go back into the desert of the world and help others find their way.
The Bodhisattva does not give up yos experience of enlightenment or joyful experience of nirvana. Rather, carrying that experience along, so to speak, yo chooses to live yos life in what others consider the 'Real' world, essentially saying, "I am not ready to leave behind those I love and whose concerns I, therefore, choose to continue to share." For all Yoans, ranging from the most devout mystics to the most indifferent ennuists, embodiment of the essence of this Buddhist tradition—the Bodhisattva's choice to balance yos love of and care for others alongside yos pursuit of personal nirvana—is sacred and, without any necessary "mystical" experience, can be derived directly from the 5-10-Open-Heaven core of Yoism.
The New Yoan Dispensation: "Turn On, Tune In, Drop In"
Mystics are Yoans whose experience goes beyond the logical, scientific proof of the existence of Yo. Yoan mystics have had experiences in which they "have seen" Yo. Of course, one cannot see Yo literally (like one could ostensibly have a vision of Jesus Christ) because, by definition, Yo is the unseen, unknowable source/ground-of-being that gives rise to (or manifests as) the experienced world.
Ennuists (derived from the French word, "ennui"), unlike Humists, are profoundly disinterested in religious experience. Yoan ennuists are like those atheistic members of traditional religions who, despite their lack of belief in Yo, find the Yoan community and its values to be of vital importance. For ennuists, the issue of the existence of anything beyond direct experience is irrelevant.
Even outside observers have noticed similarities between Buddhism and these central components of Yoan belief and practice. For example, there is a similarity between the Open Source Truth Process and Buddhist skeptical empiricism.