So you think you’re a Buddhist?

Leah Ulatowski , Copy Editor

Spirituality is an important aspect of life for those who choose to embrace it. It establishes a solid moral framework by which to live, opens up a world of philosophical study and often provides comfort in the knowledge of an afterlife. Unfortunately, a disturbing trend among college students is to declare oneself a Buddhist or part of the religion one’s family observes without actually practicing it.

I’m uncertain why Buddhism is so prevalent among students—perhaps the widely known concepts of liberation and karma simply appeal to them. Nevertheless, it would be disingenuous to assume that a desire for rebellion does not factor into this fascination; after all, nothing says rebellion like a Cheesehead of non-Asian descent declaring himself a Buddhist, often to the surprise of his Protestant or Catholic family.

Needless to say, the decision to convert should not be based upon rebellion or a single aspect of a religion’s philosophy, but rather treated as a lifelong commitment and lasting journey. There is a difference between thinking a religion is interesting and actually becoming a follower of it, which is a concept too many college students have trouble grasping.

One’s spirituality should be a daily part of his life and ingrained in his heart. If it’s something that’s easily overlooked on a regular basis, either a recommital is in order or the conversion was simply not taken seriously.

The same goes for those students who claim to be a certain religion because their family practices it. Almost everyone has heard at least one student say, “Well, my mother is (insert religious affiliation here), so I guess that’s what I am.”

No, it’s not what you are, and it’s especially apparent when you have to phrase it like that.

We don’t automatically inherit our family’s political views, so why is something as important as religion treated differently?

Additionally, it is easy to ignore core values associated with a religion when we don’t actually practice it, which may confuse those who are seeking true conversion. We’re all humans and will stray from our religion’s values at times, but there’s a difference between that and being utterly ignorant of those values.

Let’s not affiliate ourselves with a religion in name only; in doing so, we miss out on the benefits of real spirituality. If one simply isn’t up for practicing a faith, there is no shame in being truthful and admitting one is agnostic; however, if one truly wishes to embrace and affiliate with a church, it is important to ensure it’s a matter of the heart rather than a silly phase or something taken lightly.