Currently reading The Story of Buddhism for my Religions of Asia class.
The first humans living for 80,000 years, flying, and eating white foam.
Eight hot hells, eight cold hells, four neighboring hells.
Six realms of being.
These stories... are insane.
And this is not to say that Buddhism has no validity. Hey, maybe adulterers DO go to a hell where they're constantly climbing up a tree full of razorblades to get to a woman who keeps disappearing. I don't know! Who does?
Perhaps these are all real things, but I must say that it is quite hilarious to think on how one might have come up with these stories. Flying humans who found and ate sweet white foam on the surface of the earth? That is definitely creative.
That's kind of how I feel about the stories associated with religion of any kind. They can't all be real, so who thought them up? And how? And why?
What would life look like today had these stories not been passed down? Would we have nothing to cling to? Would we—even those of us who aren't devout in the religion we grew up knowing—feel lost?
Or would the universe be more harmonious? Would there be more community, more value placed on the present, less respect for the dead and the deities?
Stories that might have started so small... have grown to create extreme faith and desperate hope, as well as fissions in families and across communities, constant disagreements on right and wrong, virtue and sin.
The power of storytelling. Pretty incredible.