Scouts-L Mail Archive for December of 1999: Re: Buddhism and Duty to God
Re: Buddhism and Duty to God
Wed, 8 Dec 1999 02:24:21 -0500
Mike Montalvo writes:
> It does not seem consistent to me that we would go to
> the founder of Scouting's views to define how the BSA
> interprets religious duty....
On one especially hot day in Hell, a new recruit ran up to Satan. He was
out of breath and barely able to speak.
"Master, Master, all is lost!" he panted, "They have discovered Truth on
Satan smiled patiently at the earnestness of this lost soul and put a scaly
hand on the young devil's trembling shoulder.
"Not to worry, son," whispered the Serpent confidently, "I'll just send
someone up to organize it!"
In discussing the impact of an institution's religious policy on the souls
of children, it is helpful to distinguish between institutions of Scouting
and Scouting as a movement. Institutions are run by humans, and as such
are deeply flawed.
If a Scoutmaster and his Committee see their mission as booting the
godless, then they need look no further than the rules, resolutions, and
by-laws of an institution. To people with this point of view it all seems
On the other hand, if you think that the purpose of Scouting is to
encourage growth, then your journey will be with Scouting as a Movement.
We look to the writings of the founders to define how the BSA interprets
religious duty because there is a bigger picture and a rich tradition. To
it's credit, the BSA does not require church attendance, and it does not
Boys will be boys, and Buddhist boys are no different. Some have old
souls, while others are profoundly indifferent about their religion. Still
others will decide to pit themselves against the injustice of the world,
little knowing the consequences of their actions. So what do you do?
> I would tend to air towards inclusiveness in allowing
> participation and follow the wise council that
> religion should be the domain of the parents and
> religious leaders.
But if the Scout's parents and religious leaders don't believe in God? The
Scout won't get through his Eagle Board of Review if his own definition of
God is too small. We are not in unchartered territory here, however.
"Other Troops ... have lads of practically no religion of any kind, and
their parents are little or no help to them....
"The practical way in which Scouting can help is through the following:
(a) Personal example of the Scoutmaster.
(b) Nature Study.
(c) Good turns.
(d) Missioner service.
(e) Retention of the older boy."
I have just added this chapter to The Kudu Net at
[note that the line of code will break, but it is simple English]:
The most useful idea in this chapter is Baden-Powell's distinction between
_education_ (the drawing out of universal truth from the Scout's core
being), and _instruction_ (the imposition or memorization of doctrine).
Scouting's role in spiritual growth is exclusively through the former, and
always through indirect means. Scouting is a GAME, after all!
The late astronomer Carl Sagan believed that the very best scientists were
those that found joy, awe, and wonder in the order of nature. When asked
if there was a definition of God in which he could believe, he quoted
Albert Einstein's interpretation of Spinoza: that God is the sum total of
all the natural laws of the Universe.
This is also the essence of the writings of both Baden-Powell and his
father. I have found the definition very useful in explaining to parents
of godless children a Scout's duty to God. Most of these adults are
independent thinkers and express a sentiment something like "I just want
him to think for himself, and learn to make his own decisions."
A Scout does his Duty to God through the direct observation of nature
(realization of God), and in his Service to Others (service of God). Use
your Scoutmaster's Conferences from Scout to Eagle to prepare him to speak
at his Eagle Board of Review from his own direct experience of reverence
and duty to God.
I designed the Scout Spirit Worksheet (http://kudu.net/ideals/spirit.htm)
to this end, and you may find it useful the next time you are fortunate
enough to meet a young free-thinker :-)
At summer camp an eleven year-old Scout (who had never been in a Church)
"Scouter Rick, I was reverent tonight. I felt awe."
"Oh, how so?" I asked, expecting him to comment on the meteors he had seen
while sleeping under the stars.
"When I saw the flag being lowered, I felt awe and I shivered."
Mike, do you think you could build on that? :-)
Yours in Scouting,
Scoutmaster, Troop 252,
Buffalo, The Kudu Net,
and a good 'ol Beaver too!
reply to Rick@Kudu.Net