I think it's fair to say that everyone -- or damn near everyone -- chooses something or some series of things as "reliable" in their lives. Or, if not exactly "reliable," at least reliable-ish. Religion is one such possibility and my own choice landed on Zen Buddhism and, more broadly, Buddhism.
Buddhism was something I was interested in, put energy and attention into, and used as a prism with which to view life. It made better sense to me than other reliable stuff, so I relied on it more or less. Buddhism was a safe haven, sort of -- a place from which to venture forth. Within its folds, I was by turns right, wrong, both right and wrong and neither right nor wrong. Buddhism was bigger than I was -- sort of like Vatican City minus the tinsel. Without being able to find its edges exactly, still it was monolithic and reliable ... or anyway reliable-ish. Buddhism was the home team and I was willing to cheer for it. Buddhism protected me and I protected it, however fumbling the efforts. It was like the keel on a boat -- keeping a steady and safe course ... or anyway steady-ish and safe-ish.
Buddhism was important and as time passed, I found a hundred zippy, solemn ways in which to defend it. Buddhism was important to me. I relied on it to the extent that the efforts required in Buddhism meant, ipso facto, I could not put energies elsewhere. I relied on it. I needed Buddhism. In this, I don't see anything very unusual: Relying on one thing or another is just human, I imagine.
But what crossed my bow yesterday as I was thumbing through an Internet Buddhist bulletin board was this: I had gotten things backwards. Buddhism is not something I rely on as a safe and sensible haven. It is not I who need Buddhism, but rather that Buddhism relies utterly and completely on me. And further, that the unwillingness to shoulder this responsibility -- the willingness to go on relying on Buddhism as touchstone and bolt hole and life-shaping thought process or practice -- amounts to nothing short of an evisceration of Buddhism ... a man staring at a dead corpse and pretending it was alive.
Buddhism relies utterly on me and not the other way around ... me and any other reliably-informed Buddhists out there. Buddhism may or may not be a protector, but who is it who does the protecting?
And who is this "me" to which I so blithely refer? Let's leave that game for another day.
Oh well ... I'm just muttering this morning... a reliable or reliable-ish occurrence.